Factory: March 11 (IANS) A first-half goal from Sahal Abdul Samad helped Kerala Blasters FC defeat Jamshedpur FC in the first leg of their Indian Super League (ISL) semi-final at PJN Stadium here on Friday.
With a 1-0 victory over Jamshedpur FC, Kerala Blasters inched closer to a place in the ISL final. The second leg on Thursday (March 15) will be the decider, but Kerala will go into the tie with an advantage.
Sahal scored in the 38th minute to give Kerala the lead and it could have been 2-0 for the yellow shirts had Adrián Luna’s free-kick not hit the woodwork.
Kerala’s defense was also rock solid, withstanding the initial threat from Jamshedpur with Marko Leskovic leading from the front.
League Shield winner Jamshedpur looked off the mark from the start with Daniel Chima Chukwu squandering two brilliant chances in the first half and Greg Stewart also missing his usual trick in the final third.
Jamshedpur started on the front foot and Chima missed a golden opportunity to draw first blood from close range after Pronay Halder headed in a TP Rehenesh free kick from deep in his own half only for the fit Nigerian to volley wide. .
Chima had another opportunity to correct his mistake, this time Halder did it again to win the ball from Puitea and help the Nigerian, but the seasoned striker shot wide after beating his marker. Meanwhile, it was heartbreaking for Seiminlen Doungel when he was injured and had to be replaced by birthday boy Mobashir Rahman.
Mobashir was in the thick of things almost immediately, finding the near post from a Stewart free-kick that was just outside the training ground, beating the Kerala jerseys with a cheeky dismissal for an unmarked Mobashir to cross from the flank. right, but decided to give it a try. his own fate, in the end was in vain.
For Kerala, Leskovic was at the top of his game keeping the defense tight and also making some crucial interceptions as Jamshedpur continued to attack with poison before Kerala scored against the course of the game.
Álvaro Vázquez once again underlined his class and silky ability to first spot Sahal making a run and then play him a delightful ball over the top which Ricky Lallawmawma tried to clear, but instead made it easy for Sahal to pick up the ball and slip it over an advancing Rehenesh.
The second half got off to a slow start before Adrián Luna’s free kick blew just inside the post after TP Rehenesh put a glove on him just a minute before the hour mark. At the other end, Ritwik Das, who scored the winner against ATK Mohun Bagan to help his team win the League Shield, sent an effort over the bar after Stewart and substitute Jordan Murray combined well on the last third.
With three minutes left on the clock, Ishan Pandita deflected a shot from close range.