Kochi, Nov 13: Riding on CK Vineeth's two goals in the last five minutes, hosts Kerala Blasters stunned Chennaiyin FC 3-1 in the Indian Super League (ISL) football tournament at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Saturday (Nov 12).
Bernard Mendy's 22nd goal put Chennaiyin FC ahead but the hosts left their rivals stunned in the second session with goals from substitute Didier Kadio in the 67th minute and Vineeth, who struck in the 85th and 89th minute to give Kerala Blasters full points.
Kerala Blasters have never won against Chennaiyin FC in the league stages and will relish the three points that takes them to the second spot with 15 points, the same as Mumbai City FC. Both teams have played 10 matches and have a goal difference of plus one.
For Kerala, who had just one point from their first three matches, this was a remarkable turnaround and follows a similar story against FC Goa in the previous game where they fought back after being a goal down at the break.
Chennaiyin FC were the dominant team in the opening 45 minutes and deservedly took the lead in the 22nd minute through Mendy. The French defender, who started in midfield, was unchallenged on the left and took a shot at goal from just outside the box which deflected off Kerala captain Cedric Hengbart into the goal.
The defending champions had two more chances to kill the game in the first session but Nigerian striker Dudu Omagbemi was not at his best. Dudu missed from close range when Mendy turned the ball to him from the left and the Nigerian striker again shot wide after doing well to outmuscle Hengbart only to push the ball away with his right foot from inside the box.
Chennaiyin FC had to pay for the missed chances as Kerala Blasters were stronger with the inclusion of Kadio for an off-colour Michael Chopra in the second session.
Kadio was on target for Kerala Blasters in the 67th minute when he was presented with an inch-perfect pass from Antonio German. The Ivory Coast striker only had to tap the ball inside the goal after German had done well to get inside the box.
There was more trouble for Chennaiyin FC as goalkeeper Duwayne Kerr dropped a regulation cross from Josu Prieto in the 85th minute and Vineeth showed good technique to slam the ball into an empty net.
Four minutes later, the local lad scored his third goal in just two matches to assure Kerala Blasters of victory after he made a perfect run to meet a pass from German and slot it past the goalkeeper.
While Kerala Blasters occupy the second spot with four wins, three draws and as many losses from their 10 matches, Chennaiyin FC find themselves tottering at the seventh spot with just two wins, four draws and three loses in their nine outings.