KERALA BLASTERS FC – 1 (Adrian Luna 71’ (P)) INDIAN NAVY FOOTBALL TEAM – 0
Indian Super League (ISL) side Kerala Blasters marked their Durand Cup debut with a slender 1-0 victory over the Indian Navy Football Team at the Vivekananda Yuba BharatiKrirangan (VYBK) on Saturday, September 11.
Uruguayan midfielder Adrian Luna scored the match-winning spot-kick in the 71st minute.
Scores remained level at half-time and given how wasteful both teams were on either half, it seemed that the 130th Durand Cup was heading for its first goalless draw.
The Navy team did an incredible job in their opening game when they came back from a goal down to win against Delhi FC and had they only tucked away the biggest chance they had today in the 73rd minute, the Sailormen could have ensured passage to the quarter-finals already.
The opportunity was textbook and it sprung out of a Navy counterattack. Ultimately, it was squandered, not once but twice. First, Sreyas VG had to put his shot away with only Albino Gomes to beat, but the Blasters custodian palmed it away.
Only for the ricochet to fall straight at the feet of P M Britto, who had an open goal to aim for. The former East Bengal winger, however, he astonishingly shot wide.
The breakthrough goal had arrived two minutes earlier, following an erratic challenge inside the box by Navy’s Dalraj Singh, which was adjudged to be yellow-card worthy and a penalty was awarded in favour of Kerala.
Adrian Luna stepped up for the responsibility and made no mistake in making it 1-0 for his side.
“We are happy with the three points. It was our idea of today’s game. It was really hard in these circumstances with the rain and the condition of the pitch. We wanted to finish the game without injuries but now we have to see how to recover some of our players”, said Kerala Blasters Head Coach Ivan Vukomanović following the game.
(With inputs from Pratyusha Mukherjee, a BBC Journalist based in Kolkata)