Guwahati: English striker Chris Dagnall scored twice as Kerala Blasters exposed NorthEast United's defensive frailties to notch up a 4-1 thumping win in their Indian Super League football match here yesterday.
Dagnall struck inside 35 seconds into the match to score the fastest goal of the ISL and then found the target again in the 76th minute in front of the disbelieving 27,000 strong Northeast fans at the Indira Gandhi Stadium. Cavin Lobo (21st) and Antonio German (75th) scored the other goals for Kerala while Nicolas Velez pulled one back for NorthEast in the added injury time (90+1).
Kerala, who were at the bottom of the eight-team league table before yesterday's match, jumped one place to seventh by virtue of the win with 11 points to their kitty from 10 matches while Northeast remained on fifth with 13 points from 10 games. Kerala, the last edition runners-up, had beaten Northeast 3-1 in the first leg in Kochi on October 6 and today's win was their first victory in four away matches. They kept themselves in the hunt for a place in the play-offs.
The visiting side got off to a dream start as Dagnall gave them the lead when the match was only 35 seconds old -- the fastest goal in ISL so far. NorthEast United lost the ball in their own half and Antonio German did well to square it across for Dagnall who slammed it home despite being under pressure from Robin Gurung inside the Northeast box.
NorthEast United were rattled by the early goal but were unlucky not to have got the equaliser in the 14th minute when a free-kick from Simao Sabrosa was headed by Cedric Hengbart from close range but the ball was somehow saved by Kerala goalkeeper Stephen Bywater.
Kerala made it 2-0 in the 21st minute after NorthEast United made the mistake while trying to set an offside trap for Cavin Lobo when Josu Prieto played a delightful ball. The India midfielder beat the offside trap and then got the better of goalkeeper T P Rehenesh with a left-footed grounder.
Backed by a big crowd, NorthEast United kept trying to come back into the match but all such hopes faded away in the 75th minute when German made it 3-0. Once again it was Josu who did all the hardwork by working his way to the touchline and then pulling it back for German who made no mistake to slot it into the net, past a
diving goalkeeper Rehenesh.
A minute later, Kerala scored the fourth goal of the match and Dagnall his second. Dagnall made a fine run into the middle after a perfect one-two with Lobo and unleashed a pile driver that gave the NorthEast goalkeeper no chance.
NorthEast pulled a goal back in the last minute of added injury time through Nicolas Velez. The Argentine striker cut his way on the right inside the Kerala box and then shot powerfully to beat goalkeeper Bywater at the near post.