Saturday, Sep 30, 2023 | Last Update : 08:51 PM IST

  Sports   Football  12 Dec 2016  ISL Semis: Blasters ride on Belfort’s strike

ISL Semis: Blasters ride on Belfort’s strike

Published : Dec 12, 2016, 2:08 am IST
Updated : Dec 12, 2016, 6:36 am IST

Delhi’s defensive frailties were exposed right after kick-off when Kerala raced away on a counter.

(Representational image)
 (Representational image)

Kochi: Kervens Belfort’s 65th minute strike was enough for Kerala Blasters to edge Delhi Dynamos 1-0 in the first leg of the Indian Super League’s second semi-final at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Sunday.

Gianluca Zambrotta’s side had arrived in the city with a reputation of being the most lethal attacking force in the league, but it was their humble hosts who overshadowed them with a bountiful of scoring opportunities.

Unfortunately for Steve Coppell, his side’s profligacy prevented them from capitalising on their supremacy and kept the margin only to one goal.

For Delhi, in their second try in ISL playoffs, a one-goal deficit might not appear a mountain too high when they host Kerala for the second leg on Wednesday.

Delhi’s defensive frailties were exposed right after kick-off when Kerala raced away on a counter and their two defenders were outnumbered against the home team’s three men attack. The fragrance of a breakaway goal filled the air and Belfort ignored his Nazon, on his left and passed to the man in form C.K. Vineeth, who hit the side-netting.

Delhi earlier got a look-in when Kean Lewis had struck wide after Florent Malouda was felled on the edge of the box. With a lone forward in Richard Gadze and a deep-lying midfield, Delhi invited Kerala’s defense to push through and they happily obliged by sparing either Aaron Hughes or Cedric Hengbart, when enjoying ball possession.

An injured Josu, complaining of a left ankle problem, left the field at the half hour mark but surprisingly midfielder Kadio Boris who replaced the Spaniard, instead of Rino Anto, a natural-apparent in the position.

Kerala pressed forward.but couldn’t score.

The second half craved for a moment of inspiration from both sides and barring a collision between Delhi’s Malayali centre-back Anas Edathodika and Kerala centre-forward Rafi, there was barely any urgency in the opening quarter.

But it was Belfort who lit the fireworks with a dashing display of speed, artistry and finishing prowess. The Kerala No.9 hit the accelerator on a break and galloped deep from his own half and slid it in at the near post.

Desperate to get the equaliser, Delhi barged out in numbers.

Chances came in bundles at the other end as Delhi’s backyard lay wide open, but neither Nazon nor Belfort could put it past Doblas. The home side’s profligacy was alarming and despite throwing in Michael Chopra and Antonio German into the mix, their forward line cut a sorry figure.

Tags: isl, isl season 3, kerala blasters