Kerala Blasters FC left it for too late against Delhi Dynamos FC in the Indian Super League (ISL) 2016 semifinal clash on Wednesday night. But the visitors, the second best team on the night, prevailed when it mattered most. Goalkeeper Sandip Nandy proved to be the hero as Delhi Dynamos crumbled in the penalty shoot-out. Blasters will now take on Atletico de Kolkata in what will be replay of the 2014 final. (SCORES and UPDATES)
Kerala Blasters FC won the first leg 1-0 in Kochi thanks to a brilliant goal from their Haitian striker Kervens Belfort. The second leg ended 2-1 in Delhi Dynamos’ favour.
22:00hrs IST: Delhi Dynamos should hold their heads up high. Despite being a man down for the majority of the game, the hosts looked the dominant team and could have nicked it had Malouda and Marcelinho been a tad more clinical.
For Kerala Blasters, Sunday presents an opportunity to set it right this time around. They’d look to avenge the 2014 final loss to Atletico de Kolkata.
21:56hrs IST: Another post-match scuffle. Nothing as bad as last night’s though.
21:55hrs IST: Rafique slots it in for Kerala Blasters,and away they go. Kerala Blasters will take on Atletico de Kolkata in the ISL 2016 final.
21:50hrs IST: Memo hits it AT Nandy. The keeper’s pumped, and for good reason this time. Superb save from the Kerala goalkeeper.
21:49hrs IST: Belfort up. Slots it easily past Doblas. Kerala up 2-0.
21:48hrs IST: Delhi’s Pelissari does a Malouda! Shoots it way over! Nandy pumped. Goals denied without making a single save. Kerala up 1-0.
21:47hrs IST: Kerala’s German up next. And Doblas saves it! Brilliant diving save.
21:46hrs IST: Main man Malouda misses! Hits it way over. Ian Rush is shocked and so are we! Blasters lead 1-0.
21:45hrs IST: Josu blasts it into the top-right corner. Kerala Blasters 1-0.
21:43hrs IST: Penalties it is! 120 minutes couldn’t separate the two teams. Delhi Dynamos deserve extra credit. The hosts stepped up their game after going 2-1 and a man down.
21:36hrs IST: “Dilli, Dilli!” shouts the MC, breathing life into the nervy 24,000 spectators who have been watching the proceedings in pin-drop silence. A minute to go.
21:34hrs IST: Momentum will certainly shift if this goes into penalties. Delhi should have put this game to rest. Kerala would be happy to have survived these thirty minutes.
21:31hrs IST: Marcelinho, of course, had taken the two penalties Delhi earned this season. Pelissari has proven credentials. The Brazilian played for Chennaiyin the first two seasons.
21:30hrs IST: Coach Steve Coppell decides against it. Hughes to stay on the pitch as a passenger. It is a numbers game, after all.
21:29hrs IST: It’s the battle of the fittest. Kerala’s marquee defender Aaron Hughes is in discomfort. Soft signal, the 37-year-old wants to come off.
21:27hrs IST: Pelissari comes in for... Marcelinho! That’s a shocker. The season’s top-scorer will have no part to play in Delhi’s bid to reach the final.
21:25hrs IST: Bruno Pelissari looks ready to come on for the hosts. This could be a game-changer.
21:24hrs IST: Remember, Delhi have been a man down for more than an hour now. The formation looks better with 10 men, strangely.
21:21hrs IST: End of the first ET half. One-way traffic in these fifteen minutes. Kerala need to force things a little as Delhi look favourites at this rate to get that elusive goal in the second half. The hosts will look to ride on the flow and score. Who likes penalty shootouts anyway?
21:20hrs IST: Kerala Blasters have to come into the game. German, Belfort and Vineeth are waiting for a ball which just isn’t coming their way.
21:16hrs IST: Malouda (who else) with a sharp run down the left flank. Passes it to Tebar, who floats the ball in for Marcelinho who has sneaked into the box. Brazilian’s header has no power and Nandy collects it with ease.
21:14hrs IST: There he is again! Malouda with a stinging strike from the edge of the box. Nandy parries it away for a Delhi corner.
21:13hrs IST: Delhi Dynamos’ two Ms are running the show here. Malouda and Marcelinho both should have had multiple goals against their names tonight.
21:11hrs IST: Jhingan has stretched something. The defender is in pain and hobbles towards the touchline, making it 10 versus 10 for the time being.
21:08hrs IST: That could have been it! Malouda finishes a solid run with a shot straight at Nandy. Rebound falls to Marcelinho who hits it first-time. Ball sails just over.
21:07hrs IST: And we’re away with the first half of 15 minutes.
21:05hrs IST: Two brilliant halves. And we have got 30 minutes more. Neutrals, sit back and enjoy as fans of Delhi Dynamos and Kerala Blasters stay rooted at the edge of their seats.
20:59hrs IST: We’re going extra-time! Superb second half comes to an end. Delhi lead 2-1 on the night but the 2-2 aggregate means we are in for another 30-minute slugfest.
20:55hrs IST: Stoppage time, and it is all happening. Corner for Kerala and Doblas collects the header at pointblank range.
20:54hrs IST: Malouda again! Header from the Frenchman goes just over.
20:52hrs IST: Here’s a look at the sensational goalline clearance from Jhingan. That’d have been game over for the visitors.
20:50hrs IST: Six minutes left, and Malouda is coming into his own. Playing as a centre forward, the Frenchman is getting into spaces. He takes a shot which goes just wide.
20:45hrs IST: Lovely back-heel from Malouda. Marcelinho gets the ball but can’t squeeze it in through a tight angle.
20:43hrs IST: WHAT AN ESCAPE! Goalline clearance from Jhingan! Kerala Blasters, thank ye Gods. Keeper Nandy rushes out to punch away a freekick (yet again), a Delhi player wins the aerial duel. Luckily, Jhingan is there for the rescue. That could have been curtains for Kerala.
20:41hrs IST: Malouda has taken Gadze’s position as the centre forward. Meanwhile, Kerala’s Rafique continues to put in crosses from the right.
20:39hrs IST: Delhi take off Richard Gadze. Emerson ‘Memo’ Moura comes on. Will fresh legs prove to be the difference?
20:38hrs IST: Another close call! Kerala’s Antonio German (who has come on for Duckens Nazon) lets it rip from the distance, but it sails just over, much like Marcelinho’s effort. Something’s gonna give.
20:37hrs IST: Brilliant play from the two Indians. Rafique puts it in from the edge of the box for Vineeth, who heads it towards the near post. Just wide.
20:34hrs IST: Close! It’s that man Marcelinho again. The Brazilian cuts in and belts one with his left foot from the distance, which just sails over the bar!
20:29hrs IST: No goals in the second half. Though not for a lack of trying. CK Vineeth and Mehtab Hossain have come close.
20:21hrs IST: Substitution. Kadio goes out, Kervens Belfort comes on. The speedy Belfort scored the solitary goal in the first leg at Kochi.
20:18hrs IST: WHAT A RUN! Malouda gets past five yellow shirts but strikes it over. That’s a marquee player for you.
20:16hrs IST: That’s new. Sandesh Jhingan blocks a venomous Kean Lewis shot at close range... with his face. That’s gotta sting.
20:12hrs IST: Ian Rush is in attendance. The Liverpool legend has seen his share of exciting halves of course.
20:11hrs IST: This was the sixth time in nine games that Delhi have scored more than one goal.
20:05hrs IST: What a half. Delhi are a man down but the second goal came at the best moment possible. Kerala Blasters need to regroup and slow the proceedings down. The 2-1 scoreline means the two sides are level on aggregate. We will go into extra time if the second half fails to break the deadlock.
19:57hrs IST: It was another beautiful, long freekick from Tebar and this time Ruben Rocha outleaped Nandy to head the ball in.
19:55hrs IST: Vijender should stick around. Delhi Dynamos score in the last play before the half-time whistle. Dynamos lead 2-1. It’s 2-2 on aggregate.
19:54hrs IST: Speaking of nice 1-2s... Vijender Singh is cheering for Delhi Dynamos. The Indian boxer will take on Tanzania’s Francis Cheka in the WBO Asia Pacific super middleweight title bout on Friday.
19:51hrs IST: Another chance. Freekick from Tebar is long and deep. Malouda goes up but so does keeper Nandy, who punches it away and gets an elbow from his own defender.
19:49hrs IST: Six minutes added (justifiably so.) Marcos Tebar with a lovely 1-2 with Marclinho, and the Spaniard’s shot is just over the bar.
19:44hrs IST: And Richard Gadze comes alive. Delhi forward turns with the ball and cuts in on his right. He attempts to curl it inside the bottom right but Nandy makes a good save.
19:38hrs IST: Need for some composure now. Kerala’s Josu has been booked for tripping Marcelo. And now Mohammad Rafi has been brought down. He too is stretchered off and has been Mohammad Rafique has been brought on. 1-1 on the night. Kerala lead 2-1 on aggregate.
19:36hrs IST: Milan’s challenge seems to have caught Mehtab Hossain on the shin. The Kerala player is in agony and has been stretchered off.
19:34hrs IST: It’s all happening here. Now Lalchhawnkima booked for dissent. Dynamos are a man down and need to be careful.
19:29hrs IST: It’s chaos and Delhi Dynamos are in a disarray. Straight red for Milan Singh for a dangerous challenge on a Kerala player.
19:26hrs IST: GOAAAAAL! And just like that, Kerala equalise. In a minute. Nazon runs at the defence, cuts inside to shoot it past Doblas. It’s 2-1 on aggregate.
19:22hrs IST: GOOOOAAAAL! That came from nothing. A half-clearance falls to Marcelinho, who finishes it off with composure. Delhi are back in it. Scores 1-1 on aggregate.
19:16hrs IST: Both the players are yet to come into play.
19:11hrs IST: Malouda’s freekick is punched out by Kerala goalkeeper and the visitors run away on a break. Josu heavy cross goes away from CK Vineeth. End to end stuff.
19:09hrs IST: Rafi with a clumsy challenge on Delhi forward Kean Lewis. No cards.
19:01hrs IST: Positive start this from the visitors as Jose crosses in. Delhi defenders clear the danger.
18:56hrs IST: Kerala Blasters FC XI: Cedric Hengbart, Aaron Hughes(C), CK Vineeth, Mehtab Hossain, Mohammed Rafi, Sandesh Jhingan, Sandip Nandy(GK), Didier Boris Kadio, Duckens Nazon, Azrack Mahamat, Josu Currais.
Delhi Dynamos line-up: Rubén González Rocha, Kean Lewis, Marcelo Leite Pereira, Milan Singh, Antonio Doblas Santana(GK), Marcos Tébar, Florent Malouda(C), Souvik Chakraborty, Lalchhawnkima, Anas Edathodika, Richard Gadze.
18:54hrs IST: The two sides have lined up for the anthem. We are moments away from kick-off!
18:43hrs IST: A look at the line-ups.
Delhi Dynamos FC will take heart from the fact that they have not lost a single game at home this year and have scored 18 goals at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, New Delhi.
On the other hand, Kerala Blasters FC were the only away team who failed to score in Delhi this season and are currently on a four-match winless run away from home.
The winners of this semifinal tie will face 2014 champions Atletico de Kolkata in the ISL 2016 final on December 18.