Kerala Blasters beat Delhi Dynamos 1-0 in the first leg of the second semi-final
The Sachin Tendulkar co-owned side will take a slender but important advantage to the second leg to be played in New Delhi on December 14.
Played in front of a massive crowd of almost 50,000, 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 to the second leg to be played in New Delhi on December 14. Kerala were in good shape for the encounter with Mehtab Hossain returning from suspension and Josu Prieto back.
Delhi Dynamos too looked good at the start with all players being available and they almost silenced the raucous crowd in the first minute. A long ball from the midfield saw Florent Malouda take aim and clearance fell kindly for Kean Lewis. But before the Delhi winger could try his luck, defender Cedric Hengbart had deflected the ball away for a corner.
A minute later, it was the Blasters’ turn to give Delhi a scare. Kerala counter attacked superbly through Belfort, who ran the length and set it up for an unmarked CK Vineeth. Though Duckens Nazon was unmarked to his left at the near post for a tap in, the in-form India striker chose to go for goal and ended up hitting the side netting from close range.
Delhi took time to show their attacking strength and top scorer Marcelinho Pereira went close in the 35th minute. The Brazilian did well to push his way past Mehtab Hossain and Didier Kadio but goalkeeper Sandip Nandy proved equal to the challenge.
Kerala thought they had scored their opening goal when Belfort put the ball into the net but the celebration proved premature as the assistant referee ruled that the Haitian striker had handled the ball.
In the second half, he was not to be denied in the 65th minute as the striker received a ball in his own half. He ran a distance with the ball, sidestepped defender Ruben Gonzalez Rocha and took a chance with only the goalkeeper to beat. A deflection from the sliding Anas Edathodika caught keeper Antonio Doblas wrong-footed.