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ISL Opener: New signing Ogbeche scores a double as Kerala Blasters beat ATK 2-1

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Ogbeche of Kerala Blasters celebrates after scoring his second goal aginst ATK on Sunday
Nigerian striker Bartholomew Ogbeche strcuk a brace to help Kerala Blasters beat ATK 2-1 in the opening match of the Indian Super League season six in Kochi on Sunday.

Carl McHugh scored ATK’s 100th goal of the ISL in only the sixth minute but the home side, egged on by a crowd of more than 35,000, hit back with two goals from their new signing to begin their campaign on a winning note.

Ogbeche struck in the 30th (through a penalty) and 45th minutes at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. The game got off to an electrifying start with the visitors capitalising on a free-kick for a foul on Jayesh Rane by Jeakson Singh. The set-piece into the box was cushioned back for McHugh by Agustin Garcia Iniguez at the far post. The Irishman went on to slam a brilliant first-time volley with his left foot that gave Bilal Khan in the Kerala goal no chance whatsoever.

With the wind in their sails from an early goal, ATK continued to press Kerala relentlessly and created several chances to double their lead, the best of which came in the 22nd minute. Roy Krishna embarked on a sizzling run from the midfield, going past a couple of Kerala defenders into the box, but opted to slide it for Javier Hernandez rather than shoot himself and the ball trickled away.

A rattled Kerala were handed a lifeline when ATK winger Michael Soosairaj went down in the box under Sergio Cidoncha's challenge. But the referee waved away the protests and Kerala won a corner from the ensuing counter-attack. That set-piece would produce the equaliser for Kerala. Ogbeche saw his looping header from the far post come back off the upright, only for Pronay Halder to pull down Jairo Rodriguez who was about to slot it in. The referee awarded the spot kick and Ogbeche made no mistake in beating Arindam Bhattacharja to lift the spirits of the home supporters.

The men in yellow started to enjoy more time on the ball following the equaliser and stormed into the lead just before half-time. Pronay failed to clear a low cross from Prasanth Karuthadathkuni and the loose ball was driven in smartly by a lurking Ogbeche. Kerala continued their ascendancy at the start of the second half as well, keeping the ball well and forcing errors from ATK.
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