Kochi: Hosts Kerala Blasters managed to hold Mumbai City FC ended in a goalless draw in an Indian Super League football tournament encounter that never rose to dizzy heights.
Kerala Blasters FC's Marcus Williams heads the ball against Mumbai City FC's Frederic Piquionne during their ISL match at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Kochi. Pic/ISL
It was a match that Ranbir Kapoor co-owned franchise dominated the proceedings and would rue their luck that they could not manage more than a point from the match. While Blasters are in third place in the league table at the moment with four points from two outings, the Mumbai side logged home their first points in the cash-rich tournament.
For Mumbai, their player-cum-manager Nicolas Anelka was out of action due to flu and there were as many as six changes in their side. While forward Subash Singh won 'Man of the Match' award for his steady show upfront, Mohun Bagan goalkeeper and their I-League hero Debjeet Majumdar playing his first match for the ISL team also was impressive under the bar.
Kerala Blasters however replaced last match's scorer Mohammed Rafi with former India international Manandeep Singh, a reason that was left unexplained. Subash started up front instead of last match goal scorer Piquionne with Saran Singh. Mumbai were on attack at the outset as their Haitian winger Sony Norde looked particularly threatening and Blasters' Peter Ramage had to be alert to keep out a dangerous cross from the Haitian as early as in the second minute.
A long ball was provided for Gabriel Fernandes down the vacant left but the Mumbai City shot over. Mumbai soon had another chance to take the lead when Norde's low free-kick from the left wing in the 12th minute. Subash Singh managed to deflect the ball to the near post but gioalie Stephen Bywater was alert enough to make the save.
Blasters' Rahul Bheke send in a long throw but Bertin and Cmovs were winning all the headers for the Mumbai side. In the 18th minute, Pulga made Debjeet work after a neat bit of work down the right which left him with space to cross. Pulga's chip shot dipped dangerous but Debjeet timed his jump to perfection to tip it over the horizontal.
Norde dominated the midfield play for Mumbai in absence of Josue of Kerala. In the 30th minute, Subash raced past Bruno Perone to find Norde but Blasters' captain Ramage cleared the danger with a brilliant tackle.
Blasters finally created a chance in the 35th minute with Pulga and Dagnall conjured a move to find CS Vineeth but his acrobatic effort was wide off target. Norde was a menace every time he got the ball and he shot straight at Bywater after making a lively cross field run three minutes later as both teams failed to break the deadlock.