Koke powers NorthEast

Spaniard's fine goal helps hosts register 1-0 win over Kerala

Koke powers NorthEast

NorthEast United launched their ISL campaign off to a perfect start against Kerala Blasters here at the Indira Gandhi Stadium on Monday.

Buoyed on by a fervent crowd, which is used to coming out in numbers to support I-League sides, they had filled out the stadium and were treated to a delightful first-time finish from Spaniard Koke on the stroke of half-time, the only goal of the match, which did not quite match the excitement of the opening day.

Substitute Michael Chopra had the chance to snatch a point for Kerala Blasters deep into the second half but his effort from close range was stopped by a combination of the NorthEast defence and keeper Alexandros Tzorvas.

Kerala, who began the match on the front foot, enjoyed more possession and even thought they had scored in the 16th minute through forward Iain Hume but the flag correctly went up for offside.

James on song
James, who went with the moniker of ‘calamity’ because of his high-profile errors while playing for England, was anything but calamitous in goal. The 44-year-old even pulled off an astonishing stop after Durga Boro’s long-range screamer seemed destined for the top corner.

Just when it looked like both teams would head for the break at 0-0, the home side went ahead.

After the Kerala defence bothced up a clearance it fell invitingly for the Spaniard whose stroked first-time hit nestled in the bottom corner.

The capacity crowd, who did create an immense din, were on their feat. Kerala rang in the changes in the second half as they tried to force the pace but Tzorvas, who was voted man of the match, was a rock between the sticks.

Players from both sides also went down with complaints of cramps as the condition took its toll. This resulted in a loss of rhythm which further affected the efforts of the away side.

They did have one final bite at the cherry but Chopra, one of their more experience players alongside James, hurried his shot.  While the home side host Atletico de Kolkata, who beat Mumbai 3-0 in their opening match, on October 16, Kerala Blasters have the opportunity to set things right against Chennaiyin five nights later.

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