Chennaiyin FC went down fighting 1-2 against Kerala Blasters FC in a thrilling Indian Super League 2022-23 match at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Tuesday.
It was Abdenasser El Khayati who started off the match on a sensational note with a magical strike in the second minute-the fastest goal of the season. Adrian Luna struck the equaliser for Kerala Blasters in the 38th minute before Rahul Kannoly (64th) netted their second goal.
Chennaiyin got off to an impressive start in a high-voltage southern derby, thanks to El Khayati. The Dutch star, who has been in red-hot form, collected Petar Sliskovic’s pass at the edge of the box and dribbled it past a few opponents skilfully before finding the back of the net to hand an early lead for Marina Machans. It was the ninth goal of the season for the birthday boy.
Kerala Blasters tried their best to produce an equaliser but Chennaiyin defenders did enough to keep them at bay. Goalkeeper Samik Mitra pulled off two stunning saves in the span of eight minutes. The first, in the 20th minute, when he punched away Nishu Kumar’s strike with a spectacular dive to his right and, before then, successfully blocking a free kick.
The Uruguayan midfielder Luna scored the opening goal for the hosts in the 38th minute to end the exciting first half with a 1-1 scoreline.
Chennaiyin continued to play aggressively after the resumption, but it was Kerala Blasters who took the lead when Rahul KP converted Luna’s low cross inside the box.
Searching for their second goal, Thomas Brdaric’s men kept testing the opposition goalkeeper and created several chances. One such close opportunity came in the 68th minute when El Khayati got to a loose ball outside the box before firing it toward the post.
“We had an improved show in the second half especially in defending. We didn’t allow too many opportunities like in the first half. We were very good in the game. We deserved to bring at least one point,” Chennaiyin head coach Brdaric said after the match.
Chennaiyin will now host East Bengal FC in their next match on Sunday, while Kerala Blasters face Bengaluru FC in an away game on Saturday.