Kozhikode: Kerala Blasters started their opening campaign in Hero Super Cup 2023 with a 3-1 thumping win against RoundGlass Punjab at EMS stadium in Kozhikode on Saturday.
Blasters opened the scoring in the 41st from the penalty spot through Greece forward Diamantakos Dimitrios. Later, Nishu Kumar increased Blasters’ lead in the 52nd minute.
Substitute Khundongbam Krishnananda Singh cut short Blasters’ lead in the 71st minute following a defensive error from the Kerala side. However, the score line was increased to 3-1 in extra time by substitute Rahul KP to ensure a comfortable win for Blasters.
Kerala Blasters started their Super Cup 2023 campaign with high intensity in the first half while RoundGlass Punjab was pushed to make mistakes in their own half. The first breakthrough of the game came in the 4th minute from a free kick. Danish Farooq, who was on the receiving edge of the box, failed to convert the ball into the back of the net.
The I-League champions struggled to dominate the midfield as Blasters managed to close down the gap in the middle of the park. Midfielder Freddy Lallawmawma made some excellent runs through the middle for Punjab, but failed to find the decisive pass that could open up the scoring. He also sent the ball agonising wide after attempting a shot from outside the box in the 17th minute.
In the 11th minute, Defender Hmingthanmawia nearly missed a golden opportunity to open the scoring for Punjab. At the other end, the Blasters nearly scored the opener through Danish Farooq in the 30th minute. However, his shot went wide over the side of the bar. Punjab nearly stunned the Blasters when Khaimibthang Lhungdim sent in a dangerous cross into the path of Luka Majcen. However, keeper Sachin A Suresh saved the day for the Blasters. Sahal missed a tap in goal in the 34th following a brilliant run through the right wing by Saural Mandal who delivered a fine cross across the goal.
Adrian Luna’s absence was quite evident in Blasters' struggle in bringing forwards into the game. However, it was Blasters who found the opener in the 41st minute from penalty spot through Diamantakos Dimitrios. A sloppy defensive work from Punjab and subsequent foul on Saural Mandal by Hmingthanmawia gifted the opportunity for Blasters to go 1-0 ahead in the first half.
Kerala Blasters started the second half looking to increase the lead. However, Punjab pushed harder to find a goal on the other end. Bijoy V made a stunning tackle in the 50th minute to deny Punjab from equalising after Blasters' lost the ball in the middle of the park. Punjab looked dangerous as the half progressed, with them making clever runs through the Blasters' defence.
Blasters increased the lead in the 53rd minute through Nishu Kumar from a cutback from Danish Farooq. The pass was missed by Sahal but fell perfectly for Nishu Kumar to place it past the goalkeeper into the back of the net.
Khangembam Bidyashagar, who came in as a substitute, nearly scored one for the Blasters in the 67th minute after making a solo run into the box with the ball from a through pass by Sahal. However, he was denied by the Punjab keeper. Meanwhile, Punjab also created some brilliant chances on the other end, resulting in the opener in the 71st minute. Substitute Khundongbam Krishnananda Singh cut short the lead after Blasters' defence struggled to clear a dangerous cross from the right wing.
Both teams looked to outsmart other in the dying minute of the game, with half-chances created at both ends.