Kerala Blasters FC produced a dominant display in the second half that saw them come out on top against NorthEast United in the Hero Indian Super League at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi.
Josu Curriasa well timed volley in the second half broke the floodgates for Kerala Blasters, who went on to thump two more goals. Goals from Mohammed Rafi and super-sub Sanchez Watt added gloss to the score-line, but NorthEast United FC did manage to score a consolation goal in the second half through Nicolas Velez.
Kerala Blasters FC looked to test TP Rehenesh from the word go with long rangers, but found themselves under their managera s wrath due to wayward long-ranger like Peter Carvalhoa s strike on third minute. The Blasters using a 5-3-2 formation overloaded the oppostion box with their wingbacks to build pressure on the NorthEast United FC goal. Kerala boy Rafi found himself clear after a clash between goalkeeper TP Rehenesh and Kerala striker Chris Dagnall but skied it horribly.
Rahul Bheke, who was drafted in to replace the injured Nirmal Chettri, also had an opportunity to put his team ahead in the 13th minute but could only muster it straight at the keeper. NorthEasta s first real threat came in from the next play when Velez finally managed to time his run but Stephen Bywater was quick off his line and the chance was spurned.
CK Vineeth, was finding time and space against makeshift full back Seityasen Singh and he was next to fire in a powerful drive at Rehenesh, who was perfectly positioned to collect the effort easily. NorthEast United FCa s day went from bad to worse, as an injury to Miguel Garica forced Cesar Farias to reshuffle his lineup. Sanju Pradhan came in, as Bruno Herrero slotted in for Garcia in defence.
Peter Taylor saw an opportunity to tinker with the tactics as he brought on Watt in place of Dagnall at the start of second half. The change in tactics worked perfectly for Kerala Blasters, as they went ahead within four minutes. The home crowd went wild as Josu Currias left-footed volley from outside the box hit the back of the net to put Kerala 1-0 up in the 49th minute.
NorthEast United FC produced an immediate respone , as Boithang Haokip free-kick almost found Cedric Hengbart only for Bywater to punch clear. NorthEast Uniteda s expansive play in search of an equaliser meant Kerala found time and space on the ball and punished for their naivety. Kerala soon added to the scoreline, as a long throw from the right found its way to straight to Rafi, who made no mistake to head it in the top corner on the 68th minute.
NorthEast United, still reeling from the second goal, was caught unaware when Bywatera s long clearance found Rafi, who nodded it on, as Watt went clear of the NorthEast defence and scored from a simple one-on-one situation. The Highlanders finally found a consolation goal, thanks to Veleza s individual brilliance as he cut in from the left and finish into the top corner at the far post.
Kerala kept their cool as they produced a comfortable 3-1 victory to get their campaign off to a winning start.