Hosts Kerala Blasters did themselves no good after playing a goalless draw against a 10-man NorthEast United FC in a hard-fought Indian Super League (ISL) game at the Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium on Thursday.
Placed fifth in the league table, Kerala failed to convert opportunities as the Sachin Tendulkar co-owned team tried hard to break into the final-four in the business end of the tournament.
The match though saw a Red Card when NorthEast forward James Keene was sent off in the 75th minute after reacting violently to a bad challenge from Kerala striker Michael Chopra, who also conceded a booking for the tackle.
Both the sides were desperate to get three points as the match saw four yellow cards on display during the course of 90 minutes plus extra time.
Kerala's Milagres Gonsalves targeted the goal in the eight minute itself but the off side flag was already on display. The first real chance came in the 22nd minute when the Milagres-Stephen Paul Pearson combination created a flutter in the opponents goal, but NorthEast goalkeeper Rehenesh made the
However, it was the visitors who could have surged ahead in the 24th minute. From a corner-kick, Miguel Garcia's header was cleared off the line by Mehtab Hossain. Attacks and counter-attacks continued as the scoreline read 0-0 at half-time.
The change of ends did make little difference to the score as the pendulum swung from one post to another.
The John Abraham co-owned side is placed second from bottom and did its best to bag three points but the Kerala defence proved too strong. Kerala though did breach NorthEast's defence a lot many times but proved unlucky.
In the stoppage time, Yanes played in Boro on the right who crossed it into the box but it evaded everyone, as Blasters heaved a sigh of relief. Substitute Andrew Barisic thumped a shot from outside the box but Rehenesh pulled off a sensational save to keep the score-line intact as thus win a point for his side.
Kerala have 16 points from 13 matches while NorthEast have 14 from the same number of games. With toppers Chennaiyin FC, Goa FC, Atletico de Kolkata and FC Pune City making the top four, the league is till wide open still the semi-finalists are decided.
Image: A NorthEast United player heads the ball against Kerala Blasters.
Photo: Reba kumar Borah