Pune: CK Vineeth scored a last-gasp winner in the Indian Super League draw as Kerala Blasters got the better of FC Pune City 2-1 at Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex Stadium on Friday.
Kerala Blasters head coach David James had said that his team would need to win every game left in the season to stand any chance of making the semi-finals and they duly delivered, thanks to goals from Jackichand Singh and Vineeth.
While Jackichand's goal in the 58th minute had class written all over it and gave Kerala the lead, it was Vineeth who grabbed the limelight with a goal in added time after Emiliano Alfaro had drawn level for the hosts in the 78th minute.
With the scores locked at 1-1, and the clock ticking down towards the final whistle, Courage Pekuson's long ball was chested down by Vineeth outside the box and hit on the swivel with immense power to beat Vishal Kaith - a stunning goal from a man who has been Kerala's saviour so many times.
After a barren first session, the second half turned out to be quite eventful which saw three goals and Pune's Brazilian striker Marcelinho hitting the post twice.
The Hero of the Match twice hit the post with venomous attempts and then drew a brilliant save from goalkeeper Subhashish Roy Chowdhury.
Kerala argued that Marcelinho shouldn't have been on the pitch after a two-footed lunge on Prasanth went punished with only a yellow card.
The man who got sent off, however, was Pune City coach Ranko Popovic for a confrontation with the fourth official.
For Kerala's opening goal, Jackichand controlled a ball outside the area and unleashed a pile-driver from outside the area to beat Kaith's outstretched dive.
Alfaro equalised in the 78th minute from the spot after the Uruguayan striker was through on goal and Kerala goalkeeper Subhasish came off his line to smother the ball.
The attacker went down under the challenge and the referee pointed to the spot.
Alfaro aimed for the bottom corner and made no mistake in scoring his seventh goal of the season.
It seemed like the match would end in a draw until Vineeth came up with a blinder of a goal.
The loss keeps Pune (22 points from 13 matches) in the playoff spots but three points for Kerala Blasters mean they go into fifth position with 20 points from 14 matches.
They have displaced FC Goa (19 points) from the fourth position but have played three additional matches.
Updated Date: Feb 03, 2018 00:19 AM