News Karnataka
Saturday, April 01 2023

Kerala Blasters 1-5 FC Goa: Reinaldo hat-trick ends Kerala’s hopes

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Kerala Blasters’ Indian Super League (ISL) adventure came to a crushing end as they suffered a 1-5 defeat against FC Goa in Kochi on Sunday. Pulga (2′) opened the scoring early on but then a hat-trick from Reinaldo (29′, 50′ & 61′) was sandwiched between strikes from Jofre (12′) and Mandar (64′) to secure a thumping victory for the away side which saw them secure a semi-finals berth.

Goalkeeper Nandy made way for Bywater as Mohammed Rafi and Peter Carvalho came in for Coimbra and Mehtab Hossain. Blasters lined up in 4-3-1-2 with German, Dagnall and Rafi starting together for the first time.

The visiting Gaurs, looking for a win to put their qualification beyond any doubts also made three changes as Pranoy Halder, Jofre Mateu and Debabrata Roy came in for Dudu, Romeo and Gaekwad. Goa went in with a 3-5-2 with marquee player Lucio marshalling the 3 man defense.

The home team made an electric start to the game and took the lead within two minutes as Pulga played German in behind the Goa defense with a lob and the English forward latched onto it and went past Mandar onto the byline before cutting it back to Pulga himself who sent a first time finish past a helpless Kattimani.

Blasters were dominating possession in the early minutes before Leo Moura latched onto a sloppy pass in the middle of the park in the 11th minute but Jhingan’s last ditch sliding tackle prevented him racing through.  The Gaurs equalised against the run of play in the 12th after a fantastic cross from the right wing by Debabrata was played into Jofre’s path by Reinaldo and the Spaniard shot past a stranded Bywater.

Controversy followed four minutes later as Dagnall found Rafi in the penalty box and the forward went down under the challenge of Arnolin but the referee refused to award a penalty much to the frustration of the home side.

German then went on a rampaging run through the middle in the 19th and caused havoc in the Goa penalty box before the ball was scrambled clear. German was causing problems down the left hand side for Goa as he skipped past Mandar yet again and cut back inside to shoot but his effort was straight at Kattimani.

Jofre then played in Leo Moura superbly in the Kerala penalty box but his cross across was expertly blocked by Jhingan in the 23rd minute.

The Gaurs were slowly gaining a foothold in the match and unsurprisingly took the lead after a fantastic passage of play in the 29th minute. Leo Moura and Mandar exchanged passes down the left before Moura sent a delightful pass into the Kerala box which Reinaldo latched onto before sliding a finish past a wrong footed Bywater.

Dagnall had an opportunity to equalise in the 35th when Josu sent him through with a fantastic ball through the middle but the forward shot comfortably wide. Goa’s wingback Pranoy then went on a good run down the right before cutting past Jhingan in the box but sent his shot over the bar in the 38th minute.

Pulga then sent in a dangerous cross after fantastic work down the left but a stretching Dagnall could not connect.

Josu was sent off right at the end of the half after an altercation with Jofre which saw the Kerala midfielder hit Jofre in the chest and the referee was left with no option but to send the La Masia graduate off as players and support staff of both teams got involved. Josu was probably incensed after he was left with a cut lip a minute earlier after a challenge from Jofre.

Down to 10 men, Blasters made two changes going into the second half as they brought on winger Vineeth and Mehtab in place of Peter Carvalho and Mohammed Rafi.

Goa made their man advantage count within five minutes as Jofre sent Mandar through on the left and his low cross across a static Kerala defense was tapped in comfortably by Reinaldo. The home team fashioned a chance for themselves after three minutes as Pulga and German combined well on the edge of the Goa box before the former’s curling effort was palmed over by Kattimani.

Kerala were finding it very hard to keep pace with Goa’s passing and it told in the 61st minute when Reinaldo completed his hat-trick. Jofre played in Sabeeth who crossed across the Blasters goal for Reinaldo to finish past a helpless Bywater.

Goa were in no mood to relent and scored their fifth in the 64th minute. Moura again played in Mandar down the left who stormed into the box past visibly tired defenders and shot past Bywater.

Having put the game to bed, the visitors were enjoying spraying the ball around as Jofre shot straight at Bywater. Reinaldo sent Bikramjit through in the 75th minute but the midfielder was shepherded away from goal before he could pull the trigger.

Goa played the remainder of the game out comfortably as Kerala saw their chances of making the play-offs end.

The Gaurs moved on to 22 points in the table and also qualified for the play offs after recording a comfortable 5-1 away victory in Kochi, the biggest away win so far in the league while Kerala finished their home campaign on a meek note.

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