Kerala Blasters overcame a two-goal deficit to hold hosts Jamshedpur FC in an exciting 2-2 draw on Monday at the JRD Tata Sports Complex.
Tim Cahill (3') and Michael Soosairaj (31') gave the hosts a comfortable lead at halftime but the visitors put up a valiant fight in the second half as Slavisa Stojanovic (71') and CK Vineeth (86') scored to earn their team a point.
Cesar Ferrando made five changes to his side as Tim Cahill, Sergio Cidoncha, Sanjay Balmuchu, Michael Soosairaj, Raju Yumnam all made their way into the starting lineup.
David James fielded five foreigners in the Kerala Blasters starting lineup for the very first time in the ISL this season. Keziron Kizito and Matej Polatnik replaced Sahal Abdul Samad and Seminlen Doungel in the first team.
It took the home side just three minutes to break the deadlock as Tim Cahill headed the ball into the net from Sergio Cidoncha’s corner. A well-orchestrated Jamshedpur FC move was cleared for a corner by Lalruatthara. Cidoncha’s inch-perfect corner was headed into the back of the net by Australian legend Tim Cahill who registered his maiden goal in India.
Kerala Blasters tried to come back into the match after the early jolt. They started to pile on the pressure over Jamshedpur midfield but failed to penetrate in the attacking third. Mario Arques and Memo did a stellar job at the heart of the midfield to keep the visitors under strict vigilance.
The lead increased for Jamshedpur FC at the half-hour mark when Michael Soosairaj scored his debut goal in ISL for Jamshedpur FC. The former Chennai City FC winger received a ball from Dhanachandra’s throw-in, entered the penalty box from the left and unleashed a beautiful shot that curled into the bottom corner of the net.
Cahill could have completed his brace before halftime when he was faced with a golden opportunity to score from Soosairaj’s perfect cross from the left. The Australian failed to keep his header on target from close-range.
David James's substitutions after the break changed the game on its head. Cyril Kali replaced Lalruatthara in the left-back position and Sahal Abdul Samad came into the central midfield in place of Keziron Kizito.
Matej Poplatnik almost pulled one back for Blasters in the 50th minute when his shot hit the crossbar and went out. Sahal masterminded a brilliant move down the middle and exchanged a one-two with Poplatnik before the Slovenian pulled the trigger from the edge of the box.
In the 55th minute, Sanjay Balmuchu brought down Slavisa Stojanovic inside the box and gifted the visitors a penalty. Stojanovic’s spot-kick was saved by Subrata Paul to deny Blasters from registering their first goal.
Seiminlen Doungel replaced Halicharan Narzary midway through the first half and made an instant impact. Kerala pulled a goal back in the 71st minute when Slavisa Stojanovic slotted the ball home from Doungel's accurate cross into the centre.
The visitors equalised in the 86th minute. Blasters took advantage of a sudden lapse of concentration from Jamshedpur defenders and Vineeth tapped in the equaliser from Len Doungel’s cut-back.
Seiminlen Doungel proved to be the game changer for Blasters as he provided the two assists after coming from the bench in second half.