ISL-3: Delhi Dynamos finally break winless streak at home, beat Kerala Blasters to go on top
This was Delhi's first win here after a spate of four stalemates.
New Delhi: Delhi Dynamos finally broke their winless streak at home as they struck twice early into the second half to notch up a comfortable 2-0 win over Kerala Blasters to move to the top of the standings in the Indian Super League (ISL), here on Friday.
After a fruitless first half, Kean Francis Lewis struck the opener in the 56th minute off a Richard Gadze assist, while Marcelinho doubled the lead when he found the back of the net off marquee signing Florent Malouda's pass in the 60th minute.
This was Brazilian striker Marcelinho's fifth goal in the third edition of the league, and he now tops the scoring chart with NorthEast United FC's Uruguayan forward Emiliano Alfaro.
This was the team's first win here after a spate of four stalemates.
Dynamos dislodged Atletico de Kolkata from the top spot with three wins, four draws and a loss from eight matches. Kerala Blasters remained sixth with two wins, three draws and three defeats from as many appearances as Dynamos.
Desperate to break their winless streak at home, Dynamos'coach Gianluca Zambrotta started with three forwards in Marcelinho, Gadze and Kean Lewis.
The intent was right as midfield maestro Florent Malouda linked up with Gadze and Lewis, hoping to take the attention away from Marcelinho and allow him space to break free.
While the Dynamos showed urgency, they were not able to break the deadlock even though they were configured in an attacking forward-heavy formation.
In patches, the dependable Sandesh Jhingan was tested by the trio of Malouda, Gadze and Marcelinho, but the India defender managed to hold on to his own.
It was a rather subdued start by both teams and even though Dynamos showed eagerness to dominate possession, they failed to taste success in the first half. There were a few forays, though, by the home team.
In the 10th minute, defender Souvik Chakrabarty sent a beautiful ball into the box but Marcelinho's volley at first attempt got too much elevation, as it soared over.
There was a Kerela raid to come soon.
The visitors hit on the break with skipper Cedric Hengbart running down the pitch before giving it to Josu Carrais whose cross gave the Dynamos a real scare. Anas Edathodika did well to grab the ball from the opposition and cleared it to safety.
Delhi broke on the counter with Marcelinho leading the way, but his pass to Milan Singh did not bear fruit as the Indian midfielder hit it straight to Mohammed Rafi. The same was the case with Kerala as Kervens Belfort could not do much after a good first touch, and a Delhi defender tackled him.
Then came a wonderful diagonal pass from Malouda, but Kean Lewiss could not latch onto it.
Around the half hour mark, Marcelinho came really close to scoring the opener, but his powerful volley, heading towrads the target, brushed against the side netting, much to the dismay of the handful of home fans that had gathered at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.
Soon after, Gadze missed a good chance for the Dynamos as the Ghanian, needing to just tab it in after being fed by Ruben Gonzalez Rocha, got too much power on the ball as it sailed over.
For Kerala Blasters, Didier Boris Kadio's diving header narrowly missed the target. However, in the second half, things changed dramatically in favour of Dynamos as they scored two goals in a span of just four minutes.
First, Kean Lewis slotted one into the back of the net after his striking partner Gadze won the ball back with the experienced former India goalkeeper Sandip Nandy making a mess of a back pass.
This was moments after Gadze found the net only to be called off-side by miles.
Their confidence raised, the home team attacked and soon doubled the lead when Marcelinho beautifully headed in a loopy ball from Malouda over the goalkeeper and into the back of the net.
Leading 2-0, Dynamos held on for the remaining part of the match to emerge easy winners.