Bengal and Kerala will be squaring off in the second-leg game of the Indian Football League 2020-21. The first leg between the two sides ended in a 1-1 draw.
Match Timings: Jan 15, 7:30 PM IST
Bengal and Kerala both have defeated top sides in the previous game and entering this fixture with sheer confidence. Bengal looks more settled, and the improvements are coming on the field. Kerala also edged past Jamshedpur in the last outing to earn valuable three points last week. The game was in Kerala’s control from the starting minutes. Nerijus Valskis and Mohammad Mobashir set up a chance in the 4th minute. Gary Hooper took control over the backline. Kerala didn’t wait for the opening goal, and Costa sent the ball into the back of the net. Albino Gomes made a good save to avoid an equaliser as Nerijus Valskis setup a chance through a header off Aitor Monroy’s corner-kick. Valskis finally scored the goal through a direct free-kick.
In the 67th minute, Lalruatthara was sent off after receiving the red card, and he will miss this fixture. The 10-men Kerala took the lead with Jordan Murray’s double strike. The 82nd-minute goal was the fault of TP Rehenesh. Red Miners bounced back after two minutes, and Nerijus Valskis got the better of Gomes through a good cross from Mohammad Mobashir. Murray even came close to score a hat-trick, but this time, Rehenesh saved it. Kibu Vicuna made two big changes. He dropped Abdul Hakku and Nishu Kumar to recall Costa Nhamoinesu and Lalruatthara. Costa scored a goal in the first half, and Lalruatthara took the red card. Sandeep Singh and Jessel Carneiro had a decent outing, but Kerala requires improvement in the defense.
Meanwhile, Bengal overcame the big hurdle by defeating the former winner and the I-League rivals Bengaluru 1-0. The trio Bright Enobakhare, Jacques Maghoma, and Matti Steinmann earned three points for the Gold and Reds. Narayan Das and Enobakhare were denied a shot from Gurpreet Singh Sandhu. Matti Steinmann struck the opening goal with a low-cross from Narayan Das. The early lead allowed the Kolkata giants to dominate the game. In the second half, Bengaluru introduced Kristian Opseth, who set up an opportunity with Sunil Chhetri but Debjit Majumder denied it. Rahul Bheke delivered a good cross, but Dimas Delgado failed to send his header in nets. Dived Debjit Majumder made one more save to deny Sunil Chhetri an equaliser.
Maghoma almost doubled the lead, but Cleiton Silva took the ball away from him. Namgyal Bhutia offered a good cross to Bright Enobakhare, but Gurpreet Singh Sandhu dived to keep Bengaluru out of trouble. Blues fought hard in the final minutes, but Bengal survived this tricky phase and walked away with full three points. Fowler’s side is getting stronger, and now they have stretched its winless streak to one month. Bengal last lost to Hyderabad on December 15, and since then, they are unbeaten from five matches, including two wins against Odisha and Bengaluru. The January signings have also worked for the Gold and Reds. They were held for a draw in the first leg clash with Kerala, but this match will be a cracker one.
Possible Lineups & Current Form
Debjit Majumder; Scott Neville, Daniel Fox, Narayan Das, Raju Gaikwad; Ankit Mukherjee, Matti Steinmann, Jacques Maghoma, Milan Singh; Harmanpreet Singh, Bright Enobakhare
Current Form: W D W D D
Previous Match: 1-0 victory over Bengaluru
Albino Gomes, Sandeep Singh, Abdul Hakku, Costa Nhamoinesu, Jessel Carneiro, Vicente Gomez, Jeakson Singh, Facundo Pereyra, Sahal Abdul Samad, Gary Hooper, Jordan Murray
Current Form: W L L W D
Previous Match: 3-2 victory over Jamshedpur
3 goals & 3 assists in Indian Football League 2020-21
3 goals & 1 assist in Indian Football League 2020-21
5 goals & 1 assist in Indian Football League 2020-21
2 goals & 1 assist in Indian Football League 2020-21