Chennai, Dec 16: Kerala Blasters struck the match-winner deep into the extra time in a thrilling second leg semifinal to book a berth for the summit clash of the inaugural Indian Super League (ISL) football tournament on 4-3 aggregate over Chennaiyin FC here today.
The edge-of-the-seat match ended 3-3 at regulation period and the match went into the extra time as the two teams ended 3-3 on aggregate after the home and away games and Scotsman Stephen Paul Pearson's 117th minute strike made all the difference at the end. (Full tournament coverage)
Kerala Blasters, who barely scrapped into the semifinals, had come into today's match on a 3-0 advantage from their home win but they were reduced to 10 men in the 28th minute after Jamie McAllister was sent off for his second yellow card for kicking Chennaiyin captain Bernard Mendy.
A tenacious Kerala, however, held onto their defensive solidity which had helped them to come this far and finally emerged victorious in what could be the most pulsating match of the entire tournament to book a place for the summit clash in Mumbai on December 20.
Former France international Mikael Silvestre put Chennaiyin FC ahead in the 42nd minute and they were leading 1-0 at the breather before the drama unfolded in the second half.
2006 World Cup winner Italian and Chennaiyin FC coach-cum-player Marco Materazzi shot his spot kick wide early in the second half in a re-take and then Kerala player Sandesh Jhingan gifted an own goal to the home side in the 76th minute before Jeje Lalpekhlua made it 3-0 for Chennaiyin in the 90th minute.
The match finally ended with 10 men for both sides with Materazzi, who was involved in the infamous headbutt incident with legendary Frenchman Zinedine Zidane in the 2006 World Cup final, was himself sent off in the 104th minute.