Arata Izumi’s brace helps Atletico de Kolkata sink Kerala Blasters

Atlético de Kolkata beat Kerala Blasters FC 3-2 in their Hero Indian Super League Season 2 match at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi, in front of a noisy crowd of 60,251. It was a tale of two substitutes with Arata Izumi of ATK and Antonio German of the Blasters scoring twice for their respective sides.


Nallapan Mohanraj gave Kolkata the lead before German equalised for Kerala. The reigning champions led again through Izumi before German restored parity for a second time. Izumis second goal of the night in injury time was the hammer blow as Kolkata kept their chances of making the semi-finals alive with their fourth win in nine matches.


Atlético de Kolkata looked to quieten the buzzing home support who were loud from the outset by keeping the ball. Iain Hume, who was returning to the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium for the first time since moving to Kolkata from Kerala, had two early headers, signalling the visitors attention – one on target and one off.


It was Kerala Blasters FC though who came closest to breaking the deadlock in the opening 10 minutes. Mohammed Rafi, who too was making an appearance against his former employers, did brilliantly to get in between both ATKs centre-halves who had done just about enough to put the former Atlético player off as he headed towards goal.


Things were not going according to plan for Terry Phelans Kerala Balsters FC. The 37th minute saw the withdrawal of Sanchez Watt through injury. However, this turned out to be a blessing in disguise for the home side with German coming on to replace his fellow Englishman. The 23-year-old striker received a golden opportunity within two minutes of his arrival and he had only the keeper to beat when he dragged his shot wide much to the disappointment of a sea of yellow. He went on to redeem himself shortly after.


Keralas playmaker Josu found himself in acres of space on the right of ATKs penalty area when Denzil Franco chopped him down to give away a penalty four minutes from the break. German this time made no mistake and slotted home calmly to make it 1-1 at the interval.


Kolkata looked to re-establish their lead after the restart. Ofentse Nato headed straight at goal from a Sameegh Doutie corner. Kerala responded immediately through German once again who had grown in confidence since his goal. His thunderous shot into Amrinder Singhs near post was parried behind for Blasters corner.


Rafi set up Chris Dagnall moments later. However, the Englishmans shot was just wide of ATKs goal as the second period began with a very high tempo. Kerala were seeing more of the ball with the game approaching the hour mark. Atlético head coach Antonio Habas decided it was time to freshen up things by bringing on Arata Izumi for Gavilan in the hope of adding more impetus to Kolkatas midfield.


Both teams gave it their all in search of a winner. Kerala and Atlético made a real fist of it with the game tantalizingly poised towards the end. Hume struck the post in the 83rd minute and Izumi had a date with Keralas post once again two minutes later, this time the ball went into the back of the net as Kolkata got their noses in front for the second time in the match.


However, Kerala were not going to give up and equalized courtesy of another strike from super-sub German straight from the restart. The game was heading to a thrilling climax in the last few minutes. In the frantic closing stages of the game both sides could have nicked the winner. Kolkata almost caught the hosts on the counter in the three minutes of additional time but Kerala cleared the danger. It should have served as a warning for Kerala as Kolkata nicked the winner on their following counter.


It was Izumi once again who replicated Kerala substitute German to bag his second goal of the night and hand Kolkata the win. A superb ball from the right by Doutie was perfectly placed for an on rushing Izumi to net in a 93rd minute winner. There was pin-drop silence at Kochi as Atlético de Kolkata went into the top 4 with 13 points after nine games while Kerala continued propping up the table with eight points from nine games.

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