A late injury-time goal from Rahul KP handed Kerala Blasters a dramatic comeback 2-1 win over rivals Bengaluru FC at Bambolim on Wednesday.
A spectacular first-half effort from Cleiton Silva (24') handed Bengaluru the lead before substitute Lalthathanga Khawlhring, Puitea, netted an equaliser (73'). The game looked to be heading for a draw before Rahul finished off a counter in the last minute of injury time to win it for Kerala.
After threatening in the opening exchanges, Kerala had their first clear-cut chance in the 18th minute when Jordan Murray's shot from inside the box went over the bar. Minutes later, Sahal Abdul Samad's threatening run into the box came to nothing.
Bengaluru promptly punished them for not making the most of their opportunities. The Kerala defence did not properly deal with Rahul Bheke's long throw and it fell to Cleiton, whose sensational acrobatic volley gave Kerala keeper Albino Gomes no chance.
Bengaluru had a chance to double the lead at the stroke of halftime when Costa Nhamoinesu fouled Sunil Chhetri just outside the box. The resulting free kick was taken by Chhetri and was on target, but Albino pulled off a terrific save.
As was the case with the first half, Kerala started the second period brighter. Their first chance came soon after the restart when Juanan brought down Puitea just outside the box. Puitea took the free kick himself but only succeeded in smashing it straight into the wall.
- Indian Super League: Stream LIVE on ESPN+ (U.S. only)
However, he made amends for it, albeit in contentious circumstances. Bengaluru keeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu went down after using his body to block a powerful Gary Hooper shot from close range. With Gurpreet still on the ground, Sandeep Singh fired the ball back into the box. After a melee, the ball finally broke free for Puitea, who netted the equaliser.
Both teams pressed hard for the winner, getting freekicks from threatening positions that eventually came to nothing. Bengaluru came close to scoring, with substitute Leon Augustin finding himself clean through on goal in injury time after a mazy run. However, he failed to get the ball past the onrushing Albino.
There was still time for a late winner, though. After Bengaluru struck the post, a rapid counter-attack from saw Hooper release Rahul into the Bengaluru half. Despite it being 2-on-1 in his favour, he took the shot on and beat Gurpreet at his near post for a dramatic winner.
The teams both 13 points in 12 games, with Bengaluru FC 7th and Kerala Blasters 9th on the basis of goal difference. Bengaluru next play Odisha on the 24th, while Kerala take on FC Goa a day before, on the 23rd.