Kochi: Kerala Blasters FC and Chennaiyin FC played out an incredible 3-3 draw in an exhilarating encounter that left nothing to separate between the two sides at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here in the Indian Super League (ISL) match on Wednesday night.
Great atmospheres demand equally entertaining, end-to-end action and the crowd in Kochi tonight created a thoroughly engrossing environment. The two teams lived up to those expectations, with the match getting off to a cracking start.
Chennaiyin FC duo of Rahim Ali and Jordan Murray were dealing injury concerns prior to the game, and head coach Owen Coyle had remarked in the pre-match press conference that the two attackers had recovered in time to feature in this match.
Coyle even mentioned that an ISL fixture in the Kerala Blasters home turf is an event that makes him want to get back to his playing days. As fate would have it, Rahim opened the scoring for the game by netting the sixth fastest goal in ISL history, in 54 seconds.
Rafael Crivellaro lobbed a ball into the box, and Murray back flicked it, with the ball taking a touch off Rahim into its way into the back of the net. What followed was a frenetic passage of play, with Dimitrios Diamantakos and Murray scoring from the spot in the 11th and 13th minutes of the game respectively amidst resounding reception from the Manjappada.
Ajith Kumar was culpable in fouling Kwame Peprah inside the box to hand the home side the penalty. Murray pulled the lead back, with Naocha Singh, the Kerala Blasters No. 50, bringing down Crivellaro a minute later.
Interestingly, the Brazilian attacking midfielder also dons the No. 50 for Chennaiyin FC! Murray was never in doubt when he converted that penalty, and he netted the third goal of the night for his side merely 11 minutes later.
Rahim carved open the Kerala Blasters backline with an incisive through ball, and Murray met it perfectly and slotted it past Sachin Suresh as the visitors got off to a start that was as flawless as possible against one of the most in-form sides of the tournament.
However, the Blasters and their skipper Adrian Luna took it upon themselves to inspire that comeback. From nearly 30 yards out, the Uruguayan international pulled the trigger and attempted a shot that was arguably too good to be true. The ball bumped into Peprah, and he turned around and shot the ball firmly into the net with his left foot.
In a night of wonder goals, why would Diamantakos hold back? If his first goal was a straightforward one from the spot, the second one was one that brought the entire stadium to its feet. The Greek forward controlled a pass by Danish Farooq, and unleashed a powerful shot from his left foot in the 59th minute to bring the Blasters back on level terms with Chennaiyin FC.
Despite three fantastic goals from both ends, the two sides eventually had to settle for a point each.
Kerala Blasters FC will square off against FC Goa at the Fatorda Stadium on December 3, whereas Chennaiyin FC will travel to take on Jamshedpur FC on December 7.