ISL 5: Pranjal’s wonder strike earns Mumbai first point at Kochi

KOCHI: A fantastic injury-time goal from Mumbai City FC stunned hosts Kerala Blasters FC and earned them a 1-1 draw at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi on Friday.

The Blasters started the game on the front foot and created the first big chance of the game as early as the 3rd minute. Seiminlen Doungel was on hand to meet a dangerous ball from Narzary from the left and managed to get a good connection, but Amrinder Singh produced an incredible save with his outstretched leg to ensure the score remained unchanged.

The hosts continued piling up the pressure on Mumbai and deservedly took the lead through the promising Narzary. Some neat link-up play between Doungel and Slavisla Stojanovic found the Serbian free in space down the right wing. His lofted ball found Narzary free in the penalty box and the winger took just one touch before firing in a low drive to beat Singh at the near post.

The Islanders were taken aback by the goal and seemed more likely to concede another before the first half. The raucous support of the home crowd was not doing them any favours and tempers started flaring. However, no noteworthy chances were further created in the first period and Kerala went into the break with a slender 1-0 advantage.

The second half continued on the same note with a majority of the action taking place in midfield. Arnold Issoko had the first real opportunity when he found himself free in space down the right-hand side, but his shot failed to hit the target.

A few minutes later, the Blasters had a chance to seal the tie through Stojanovic. The striker picked up the ball just outside the box, swivelled and then delivered a curling shot which narrowly missed the far post.

As the game neared its end, Mumbai had a golden opportunity to attain the all-important equaliser. A long punt upfield was poorly handled by Dheeraj Singh in goal and the ball fell to Modou Sougou, who had an empty net to aim at, but astonishingly missed.

With the game stretching into added time, it looked as though Kerala would go home with all three points. But the Yellow army was silenced when Bhumij levelled proceedings right at the death with an absolute pile-driver. The substitute picked up the ball 30-yards from goal before driving home a stunning effort which flew into the top corner – a brilliant way to mark his first Hero ISL goal. In the end, Kerala had to settle for a point as the referee blew for the final whistle minutes later.

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