In a drab game in Kochi between Kerala Blasters and Delhi Dynamos, neither team managed to break the deadlock as a near capacity crowd did not get their money’s worth.
Kerala Blasters earned their first point of the Hero Indian Super League season 3 with a goalless draw against Delhi Dynamos at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Kochi, on Sunday. The hosts went into the game on the back of two straight 1-0 defeats. All the makings were in place for the Blasters as they hoped to turn the tide against Delhi Dynamos, backed by a noisy bunch of fans at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. But, for the third game in succession, their strikers drew a blank and failed to affect the scoreline.
It was an off day for Delhi Dynamos too, as they were nowhere close to the dazzling performance from their opening match when they upset defending champions Chennaiyin FC. They were the second-best side for long spells and had a very few clear-cut chances to grab their second successive victory.
Kerala Blasters manager Steve Coppell opted to start with three foreign players up front, handing Michael Chopra his first start of the season. The former Newcastle striker was accommodated after the home team opted for an Indian goalkeeper in Sandip Nandy.
Chopra was determined to not just open his account in this edition of ISL but also of his team. The England striker moved quickly, got into open spaces but remained unsuccessful all night. He was often isolated up front, and the Delhi defenders did a fairly decent job in keeping him at bay.
In fact, it was the English striker who was presented with the best chance of the first half. He received a long ball from his own half which evaded the entire Delhi defence. He was one-on-one with the goalkeeper but the narrow angle meant Delhi goalkeeper Doblas was able to get his hand to the ball and parry the danger away.
Delhi Dynamos were flummoxed by the attacking intent of their opposition, and failed to come up with any answers. On the back of an entertaining win over Chennaiyin FC, Delhi were expected to hit the ground running, but to no avail.
The visitors seemed to have lacked the direction and enterprise in the first period despite the presence of former Chelsea FC midfielder Florent Malouda in the starting lineup. Delhi were rarely given room to work things in and around the 18-yard-area and were restricted to long hopeful attempts which did not trouble Nandy in the Kerala goal.
The closest they got to taking the ascendancy was when Brazilian striker Marcelinho worked his way inside the danger zone beating a couple of defenders but Sandesh Jhingan stopped his run. The Brazilian was in sublime form during Delhi’s first game of the season when he rounded off the contest with a brace, but it looked like he had his shooting boots off for this encounter
Sandesh Jhingan had a solid outing at the back, and was rightly awarded the Hero of the Match. His most telling contribution was when he turned away a dangerous free-kick with an inch-perfect slide tackle to maintain the clean sheet for his side.
Delhi Dynamos now have four points from two matches while Kerala have a point and are just above FC Goa at the bottom of the table.