Haitian international Kervens Belfort scored the match-winner through a solo effort to help Kerala Blasters beat Delhi Dynamos by a solitary goal in their first leg semifinals of the Indian Super League football today.
Played in front of a massive nearly 50,000 crowd, Kerala continued with their impressive home run as they registered their sixth consecutive win here, thanks to a 65th minute strike from Belfort at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.
The Sachin Tendulkar co-owned side will take a slender but important advantage in their second leg semifinal to be played in New Delhi on December 14 for a place in the summit clash.
Kerala were on a five-match winning streak at their home ground before this match and they seemed to be in good shape for the first leg semi-final encounter. With Mehtab Hossain returning from suspension and Josu Prieto also back, Kerala were at their best.
Belfort and Kerala were not to be denied in the 65th minute when the Haitian striker received a ball in his own half. He ran quite a distance with the ball, sidestepped defender Ruben Gonzalez Rocha and took a chance with only the goalkeeper to beat. The shot was not powerful enough but a deflection from the sliding Anas Edathodika was enough to catch goalkeeper Antonio Doblas on the wrong foot and the ball sailed into the net.
Atletico win thriller in Kolkata
Iain Hume struck twice as former champions Atletico de Kolkata rallied to edge past Mumbai City FC 3-2.
There were goals, celebrations, cards, drama and suspense all rolled into an action-packed first half which the home side led 3-2 that eventually became the final scoreline with ATK heading Mumbai with their head held high for the second leg on Tuesday.
24-year-old impressive midfielder from Mizoram Lalrindika Ralte (3rd) gave ATK a spectacular lead in front of a 12,500 capacity crowd but their joy was short-lived as they conceded successive goals in nine minutes.
Leo Costa (10th) and Gerson Vieira (19th) made full use of a Diego Forlan freekick as Mumbai in their maiden semifinal appearance bounced back in style.
But Hume derailed all their plans with a double strike in the 39th and 45+2nd minute as ATK’s never say die attitude finally paid off.