North East settles for a draw against mighty Kerala

South Goa: Substitute Idrissa Sylla found a goal out of nowhere in the dying minutes of the game to help NorthEast United FC (NEUFC) earn a point in a 2-2 draw against Kerala Blasters FC (KBFC) in the Indian Super League (ISL) at the GMC Stadium here on Thursday.

Goals from Sergio Cidoncha (5’) and Gary Hooper (45’) gave Kerala a first-half lead. But Kwesi Appiah (51’) halved the deficit before Sylla’s late equaliser (90’) in injury time. After a minute’s silence to honour Diego Maradona, KBFC got off to a dream start, with Cidoncha heading in a Seityasen Singh free-kick in the 5th minute.

The Spaniard’s looped header was a thing of beauty — no goalkeeper could have saved that. After the goal, both teams struggled to create clear-cut chances until the end of the first half. An offensive move from Kerala ended with the referee pointing to the spot. Rakesh Pradhan was rather harshly adjudged to have slashed Lalthathanga Khawlhring down. Hooper fired the resulting penalty straight down the middle. NEUFC started the second half positively and was soon rewarded for its intent. Some poor defending by Kerala allowed Appiah to score from close range.

However, Appiah turned villain soon later when NorthEast was awarded a penalty in the 65th minute. The Ghanaian tried to find Lalengmawia, but the latter was brought down in the box by Jessel Carneiro. Appiah stepped up to take the penalty, but his spot-kick hit the crossbar before ricocheting out. Minutes after his miss, Appiah was replaced by Sylla. In injury time, the Guinean forward superbly controlled a long ball from Gurjinder Kumar with his chest before powering home past Kerala keeper Albino Gomes.