Kerala Blasters defeated Mumbai City FC 3-1.© ISL
Kerala Blasters FC brightened up their semi-final prospects with a 3-1 win over Mumbai City FC in the Indian Super League on Wednesday. Alvaro Vazquez (45th P, 60th) scored a brace either side of halftime after Sahal Abdul Samad (19th) opened the floodgates for Kerala, who are now fourth with 33 points from 19 games. They will face FC Goa in their final match, while Mumbai — in fifth place with 31 points from 19 matches — face Hyderabad FC in their final league match, hoping Kerala lose to Goa and beat Hyderabad. .
For Mumbai, Diego Mauricio scored a consolation goal from the spot in the 71st minute.
Both teams started cautiously in the early exchanges before Sahal showed individual brilliance to push Kerala forward.
A failed clearance from Cassio Gabriel saw Sahal rob the ball from him then spin past the Brazilian and a few more Mumbai shirts before firing a low shot past Mohamad Nawaz, who may have been blinded by the defenders in front of him as the ball nestled in the net.
It was Sahal’s fifth goal of the campaign, underscoring his revival in form.
Mumbai tried to make an immediate comeback but it was not to be as Kerala doubled their lead, albeit a penalty after Mourtada Fall knocked him down in the area.
The Spaniard was freezing from the spot, pausing in his run to confidently send Nawaz in the wrong direction.
At halftime Kerala crossed with a 2-0 verdict. Kerala also scored again at the start of the second period, but Luna’s exceptional effort from outside the box was well saved by Nawaz.
The Yellow Shirts didn’t have long to wait for the third goal, this time Nawaz made a meal of an easy cleanup after Fall passed back to him. Vazquez didn’t need a second invite, as he shot into an open goal.
Mumbai withdrew one after Mauricio fell in the penalty area from what appeared to be a Ruivah Hormipam push, but when Kerala players appealed the decision, the referee pointed to the dot.
Mauricio stepped up and batted in from the spot to make it 3-1. Luna could have scored moments later when his free kick was pushed to the post by Nawaz, while Kerala held on to win 3-1 and sharpen their semi-final chances.
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