Kochi, Oct 18 (IANS) A late second-half header from Ghanaian striker Richard Gadze sealed the deal for Delhi Dynamos FC who beat Kerala Blasters 1-0 in an Indian Super League (ISL) encounter here on Sunday.
Gadze found himself at the end of a cross from former France forward Florent Malouda and made no mistake in burying his header in four minutes from the final whistle at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium.
The victory propelled Dynamos to the second spot in the league table with nine points from four games. The Blasters are sixth after picking up four points from the same number of contests.
It was an explosive start to the game as both sides tried their luck on goal. First it was Cavin Lobo for the hosts whose attempt went straight to goalkeeper Toni Doblas’ body. At the other end it was striker Robin Singh for Delhi whose powerful shot was thwarted by rival custodian Stephen Bywater.
The first big chance fell for the tourists as Brazilian midfielder Gustavo Dos Santos skipped past a defender to be through on goal but his poor second touch did not help his cause as Bywater collected the ball easily.
Bywater once again stood between Santos and the goal as he dived to right to parry away a shot which was destined for the bottom corner.
After the first quarter, there was hardly anything to separate the sides as both played out of their skins to grab hold of the midfield.
Another chance fell for the visitors as Santos tried to pick Robin in front in the 39th minute, but Bywater was quick to get off his line and kick the ball away.
Four minutes later it was Spaniard Pulga’s freekick that took the Delhi defence by surprise. Robin managed to save the situation.
Both teams went into half-time locked goalless. At the break there were two changes for Kerala as Chris Dagnall and Manandeep Singh made way for former Arsenal striker Sanchez Watt and Ishfaq Ahmed.
At the 58th minute mark C.K. Vineeth was able to put the ball in the net but the striker was adjudged off-side.
Delhi came close to reaping handsome rewards a little later, as Marcus Williams almost found the back of his own net. The ball struck the crossbar and fell on the path of Robin, who managed to get a shot but it sailed over.
Frustrated at not being able to break the deadlock Delhi coach Roberto Carlos brought in Gadze replacing Santos.
Gadze was inspirational from his first touch and with his skills had the Kerala defenders on their toes. In the 80th minute he cut past two defenders inside the box with ease but then his shot fizzed wide of the post.
But he did not give up. In the 86th minute Gadze found himself at the end of a Malouda cross and his glancing header found the corner of the Blasters net, much to the dismay of the local fans.
Blasters tried hard to come back into the game, but in vain. A try from Vineeth was kept out brilliantly by Doblas diving to his right, as Kerala’s hopes evaporated.