Kerala Blasters have opened their account with a 2-0 win over Atletico de Kolkata in the season opener of the Indian Super League (ISL) 2018-19 on Saturday evening, at Salt Lake stadium, Kolkata.
Both the teams put up an unsettled look as a goalless stalemate prevailed in the first 45 minutes, but with goals from debutants Matej Poplatnik, who headed home in the 77th minute and Slavisa Stojanovic’s stunning curling effort from outside the box in the 86th minute, the victory was sealed for the Blasters.
Despite the frustratingly slow start, Kerala head coach David James expressed his delight at the victory during the post match press conference.
“I was slightly frustrated in the first half. We played a style of football which we did not intend to employ, but the second half was much much better,” he said
“I was impressed with the wing backs but more importantly with the discipline and the commitment levels of all the players. I thought we were the better team. The conditions seemed to get hotter, but it was ultimately a very good performance.”
He went on to attribute the turn of the game to the admission of CK Vineeth who was brought on from the substitute’s bench in the 71st minute.
“The team was so dominant in the first half, but we could have done better which was the most frustrating part. I had a conversation with the players at half-time just to put them back on track. CK’s substitution in the second half changed things for us. What he did was a positive contribution to our game.”
Club Award – Kerala Blasters FC
Swift Limitless Player of the Match – Jayesh Rane
DHL Winning Pass of the Match award – Halicharan Narzary
ISL Emerging Player of the Match – Dheeraj Singh
Hero of the Match – Matej Poplatnik