Ten-man Kerala Blasters FC moved to second spot in the points table with a spirited performance to down wooden spooners NorthEast United FC 2-1 in the Hero Indian Super League at the Tilak Maidan Stadium in Vasco on Friday.
Second-half goals from Jorge Pereyra Díaz (62nd) and a stunner from Alvaro Vazquez (82nd) saw Kerala get back to winning ways as NorthEast United's misery deepened further. Mohamed Irshad scored a goal deep into injury time but that didn't matter in the end as Khalid Jamil's side remained on 10 points from 16 games. Kerala now have 23 points from 13 outings.
The first chance of the game fell to NorthEast United as Suhair Vadakkepeedika had a golden opportunity to take the lead early, but the striker failed to connect after doing all the hard work to evade his marker from a Joe Zoherliana cross.
Marcelinho was at it with some teasing crosses for Suhair and also delivered a crisp corner for Pragyan Gogoi to smash the ball over the bar. Hernan Santana and Marcelinho linked up well too but lacked finishing with the former blasting over an effort after Santana burst through the right to square the ball for him.
Kerala got their first real chance three minutes from the break, Adrian Luna putting in a perfect ball for Jeakson Singh who headed over.
In the second half, Kerala started on the front foot as Alvaro Vazquez spotted the keeper out of his line and tried his luck from 40 yards out but missed the target. Vazquez was in the clear soon after, but he shot straight at the keeper as Kerala attacked with venom to soon get their reward.
Diaz was left unmarked and the Argentine made no mistake when Harmanjot Khabra headed the ball in his path, nodding in past Subhashish Roy Choudhary. Kerala suffered a setback when Ayush Adhikari was sent off after seeing a second yellow card in the 70th minute.
NorthEast United replaced Marco Sahanek with Deshorn Brown who made a comeback into the team, but Kerala went 2-0 up to add to Highlanders' plight. Vazquez scored a sensational goal, getting the ball close to the half-line and spotting Roy Choudhury off his line, to send a curling effort that nestled into the net.
Irshad pulled one back in stoppage time from a Santana ball, shooting with power from just outside the box but his brilliant effort went in vain as NorthEast United succumbed to their second straight defeat.