ISL 2017-18: Deependra Singh's strike keeps Kerala Blasters' top-four hopes alive with win over Delhi Dynamos
Kerala Blasters desperately needed three points to keep their hopes for a top-four place alive in the Hero Indian Super League and are now placed fifth with 17 points.
Kochi: Kerala Blasters came back from behind to register a 2-1 win over Delhi Dynamos FC at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Saturday.
The home side desperately needed three points to keep their hopes for a top-four place alive in the Hero Indian Super League and are now placed fifth with 17 points.
Kalu Uche gave Miguel Angel Portugal's side the lead from the spot but Kerala Blasters found an unlikely hero in 19-year-old teenager Deependra Singh Negi, who scored one and played a big part in his team's second after the change of ends.
Delhi Dynamos started on the front foot and after testing Kerala Blasters goalkeeper Subhasish Roy Chowdhury a couple of times early on, they deservedly took the lead in the 35th minute.
Prasanth Karuthadathkuni's clumsy push on Seityasen Singh in his own box gave the referee a good reason to point to the spot.
Kalu Uche took the responsibility and calmly slotted the ball past Chowdhury.
Even after going a goal down, there was little reaction from the home side, and Delhi could have doubled their lead but Chowdhury came to his side's rescue with a fingertip save to keep Mathias Mirabaje's dipping shot out.
Not happy with his team's performance, Kerala Blasters coach David James introduced 19-year-old teenager Negi early in the second-half.
It turned out to be a masterstroke.
Barely minutes after coming on for his ISL debut, Negi brought the home side on level terms.
In the 48th minute, Jackichand Singh's corner was met by the youngster at the near post and it took a deflection of a Delhi player before going into the net.
The goal gave Kerala a much need boost and they pushed on. Negi could have given the home side the lead 10 minutes later when Lalruatthara Lalruatthara's cross from the right found him in the box.
But he could only direct the ball wide of the post under pressure from defenders.
As the game progressed, there were chances created at either ends as both sides pushed for a winner.
For Delhi, a couple of those chances fell to their main man Kalu Uche, but the big Nigerian failed to make them count.
At the other end, Negi again stepped up for his side and won a penalty in the 75th minute.
Pratik Chowdhary's lunging tackle brought the youngster down inside the box and the referee had no hesitation in awarding a penalty for the second time in the game.
Iain Hume did the rest from the spot to give the home side the lead much to the delight of their supporters.
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After a rather timid first half, Delhi finally broke the deadlock with Uche's thunderous header in the 87th minute of the match at Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium.