Goalkeeper Sandip Nandy emerged an unlikely hero for Kerala Blasters as he saved all three penalties against Delhi Dynamos FC and ensured his team’s passage to the final of IIndian Super League. Marcelinho and Ruben Rocha scored for the home side while Duckens Nazon scored for Kerala Blasters.
Delhi Dynamos were leading 2-1 during regulation time and were tied 2-2 on aggregate in the second-leg semi-final at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Delhi, on Wednesday. The extra time failed to break the deadlock and in tie-breaker, Nandy proved Kerala’s saviour as Delhi failed to get the better of him with their first three penalties, taken by Florent Malouda, Bruno Pelissari and Memo.
Kerala Blasters, who had won the first-leg semi-final 1-0, scored through Josue Prieto, Kervens Belfort and Mohammed Rafique with Antonio German’s miss counting for nothing as Kerala won 3-0 and earned the right to play Atletico de Kolkata in the grand finale in Kochi on Sunday. Incidentally, both teams had contested the final of the inaugural ISL in 2014.
Earlier in regulation time,
The loss will be hard on Delhi Dynamos who had created far more chances than their rivals despite playing more than 90 minutes with a player short. Delhi midfielder Milan Singh was sent off in the 28th minute but the hosts played with renewed vigour and did not allow the player handicap to disadvantage them.
With a win under their belt from the first leg, Kerala Blasters made just one change as coach Steve Coppell brought in Didier
Kerala reacted well to that setback and equalised just three minutes later.
Delhi Dynamos were rocked further when they were a player short in the 28th minute. Milan Singh was pulled up by the referee for a challenge on Mehtab Hossain and was promptly sent off.
Despite having a player disadvantage, it
Kerala, on the other hand, had their chances with Antonio German firing a
In the first half of extra time alone, Delhi came close several times to scoring the goal that would have mattered. Florent Malouda was the man in form and he forced goalkeeper Nandy to make two good saves. Once, Nandy’s save saw the rebound fall for Marcelinho but his attempt sailed just wide of the target. Another Marcelinho header from close range fell into the waiting hands of the goalkeeper.