Kochi, Nov 10 (IANS) Supersub Arata Izumi’s winning strike in injury time propelled defending champions Atletico de Kolkata to a 3-2 victory over Kerala Blasters in a thrilling Indian Super League match here on Tuesday.
Izumi, who replaced Spaniard Jaime Gavilan Martinez midway into the second half, tapped home in the 93rd minute to get his second goal and ensure full points for the visitors at the largely attended Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. Nallappan Mohanraj was the other scorer for the Kolkata side, while Antonio German struck a brace for the hosts.
Following the victory, Atletico moved up to the fourth spot with 13 points from nine games. The Blasters, on the other hand, languish at the bottom, managing only eight points after nine outings. After the two rivals were locked 1-1 at the breather, the proceedings livened up in the last nine minutes when three goals were scored.
Azumi made the scoreline 2-1 in the 84th minute as he got past Blasters defender Rahul Bheke and put the ball into the goal. Only a minute back, there was virtual disbelief in the Atletico camp as Home’s volley following a Borja Fernandez cross came off the woodwork. But the 2-1 scoreline brought cheers to the Kolkata camp for only a brief period, as German finished a combine moved by shooting in.
With the two sides at 2-2, and the match rolling into added time, it seemed to be heading towards a draw, till Izumi rewrote the script shortly before the final whistle. The visitors started as the brighter of the two sides in the first few minutes of the game. ATK marksman Iain Hume tried his luck with two headers but failed to find the net.
At the other end, it was a Mohammad Rafi header which fizzed past the post. Atletico once again came close to scoring the first as a clearance fell kindly in the path of Rino Anto but his long ranger just missed the target by a whisker. The Blasters then had Saumik Dey running at the rival defence and he did well to skip past two defenders but Tiri intercepted his ball in the area and cleared the danger.
ATK’s hardwork finally paid off in the 29th minute as they found broke the deadlock from the most unlikeliest source, defender Nallappan Mohanraj. Spanish midfielder Gavilan Martinez found Mohanraj with a brilliant cross and the ATK rear guard was unmarked at the back post where he headed the ball in past goalkeeper Stephen Bywater with aplomb.
Sometime later it was Hume again who was through on goal but Peter Ramage who was backtracking stuck out a leg to deny the Canadian. Englishman Antonio German who came on as a substitute for Sanchez Watt next missed a sitter for the hosts. After chesting the ball down all he had to do is find the back of the net but he failed to do so. A few minutes later, however, German stepped up to the spot to slot home a penalty and bring Kerala back on level terms after Josu Currais was brought down by ATK defender Denzil Franco.