ISL 2023-24: Punjab FC stun Kerala Blasters with a commanding victory in Kochi
On the other end, Rahul K.P. almost scored with a reverse header from a cross by Fedor Cernych. Amarajit Singh could have opened the scoring from a fine layoff by Wilmar Jordan, but the former’s shot was saved well by Sachin Suresh
KOCHI: A brace by Wilmar Jordan and a late penalty by Luka Majcen helped Punjab FC stun Kerala Blasters with a commanding 3-1 victory in Round 14 of the Indian Super League 2023-24 season at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Monday.
The home side had taken the lead through Milos Drincic but Punjab answered with three goals to inflict the first home defeat for the Blasters in the season. Punjab FC moved to ninth with this win while Blasters remained third in the table. Punjab FC head coach Staikos Vergetis made two changes to his starting lineup with Sahil Travora making his first start for the club and Amarjit Singh Kiyam coming back from suspension.
They replaced Ashis Pradhan and Manglenthang Kipgen in the lineup. Kerala Blasters welcomed back Indian international Jeakson Singh after a long break to the starting lineup with Head Coach Ivan Vukamanovic naming a strong starting lineup in front of their home crowd. The home side pressed high in midfield to win back the ball and pressure the Punjab players. Daisuke Sakai’s effort from outside the box did not trouble the PFC keeper as same as Rahul K.P’s effort minutes later.
Punjab FC grew into the game with the front three of Luka, Wilmar Jordan and Madih Talal combining well. They had a couple of half chances which could not be capitalized. On the other end, Rahul K.P. almost scored with a reverse header from a cross by Fedor Cernych. Amarajit Singh could have opened the scoring from a fine layoff by Wilmar Jordan, but the former’s shot was saved well by Sachin Suresh.
The game was played at a fast pace with both teams attacking and creating opportunities, but both teams could not trouble the keeper as the final touch was missing. The home side pressure paid dividends in the 39th minute as they took the lead. Punjab FC failed to clear a corner and the rebound fell to Milos Drincic whose shot hit the crossbar and crossed the line.
Punjab FC responded instantly and equalized within three minutes from a team move involving Tekcham Abhishek Singh and Madih Talal. The French midfielder found Wilmar Jordan inside the box and the Colombian expertly cut past Pritam Kotal and finished past the keeper.
The second half also saw the home side starting on the front foot but it was the away side that put the ball inside the net first by Luka Majcen which was ruled out for offside. Kerala Blasters had a very good spell of play but the Punjab defence saw away the danger with Suresh Meitei and Dmitrios Chatziiasias being solid at the back. Punjab took the lead against the run of play in the 61st minute.
Madih Talal caught the Blasters' defence napping and his left-footed cross was deflected into the path of Wilmar Jordan by Sachin Suresh who planted the free header for his second of the night. Luka could have scored the third soon after but the Blasters keeper made a crucial save to deny the Slovenian. Ivan Vukamanovic brought in the changes to change the dynamic of the game but could not create anything to shake the Punjab defence. Kerala Blasters conceded a third from their own mistake.
Sachin gave the ball away inside the box to Ricky Shabong who cut across to find Luka whose shot came off the post. Former Punjab FC midfielder, Freddy handled the ball conceding a penalty. Captain Luka Majcen showed no nerves in converting the penalty to bury the game for their second victory on the trot. Wilmar Jordan was adjudged as the Player of the Match.
Punjab FC moved to ninth position with 14 points from 14 matches while Kerala Blasters FC are third with 26 points from 14 matches. In their next match, Punjab FC will face Jamshedpur FC on Thursday at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi.