Blasters rally to earn a draw

Blasters rally to earn a draw

Nikola Krcmarevic of Kerala Blasters FC celebrates a goal against FC Pune City. ISL Media

Kerala Blasters recorded their fourth successive draw after being held by FC Pune City 1-1 in a Hero Indian Super League (ISL) match here on Friday.

A classy strike from Marko Stankovic (13th minute) put Pune City up and running only to see Nikola Krcmarevic (62nd) pull Kerala Blasters level in the second half.

The result took Pune City, still without a win, off the bottom of the table temporarily while Kerala Blasters moved up to the fifth spot with seven points from five games.

The visitors had got off to an energetic start with CK Vineeth testing the Pune City custodian Kamaljit Singh in the third minute.

Kerala Blasters continued to attack Kamaljit’s goal but the goalkeeper denied Vineeth and Slavisla Stojanovic in quick succession.

Against the run of play, Pune City drew first blood in the 13th minute through a stunning strike from Stankovic. The Austrian gained possession in midfield before finding the top corner from about 30 yards with a terrific left-footer.

The goal infused some confidence into Pune, who should have doubled their lead when Emiliano Alfaro missed a free-header from Stankovic’s free-kick.

Pradyum Reddy’s side began to sit back, however, and play on the counter.

Alfaro and Marcelinho did pose a threat on the break but Kerala were not without opportunities themselves.

Sahal Abdul Samad imposed himself in midfield while Nikola Krcmarevic almost bundled the ball home following a scramble.

Kerala continued to attack Pune City in the second-half but the hosts soon had a glorious chance to double their lead.

Pune were awarded a penalty when Alfaro was brought down inside the box by Krcmarevic. But the Uruguayan sent his effort crashing against the bar, much to Kerala’s relief. Alfaro had missed a penalty against FC Goa in the previous game as well.

Six minutes later, Pune were made to pay for that miss when Krcmarevic lashed home a loose ball from a corner from inside the box.

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