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Sports


Kerala, Odisha settle for a point as injuries take a toll

Kochi, Nov 8 (UNI) Kerala Blasters FC remained without a win for the third consecutive
match following a goalless draw against Odisha FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium
here on Friday.
The Hero Indian Super League contest was marred by injuries to key players from
both teams as Jairo Rodriguez, Raphael Messi Bouli and Aridane Santana had to be
substituted in the first half. The changes affected the pace of the game that ultimately
ended without a winner.
Blasters and Odisha now have four points each from as many games and occupy
the fifth and sixth position on the league table.
Kerala, who were already hampered by injuries this season, suffered a major blow in
the fourth minute when captain Jairo Rodriguez went down injured. He was replaced
by Abdul Hakku.
However, the home side continued to press high up the field to try and take the
game to their opponents, but Odisha were well organized at the back.
A cautious period of play early on came to a halt when a head-on collision inside the
box following a corner-kick left Aridane Santana and Messi Bouli requiring medical
attention. Following a long pause, the game resumed with Mohammed Rafi and Carlos
Delgado replacing the injured players.
With both teams struggling to create clear-cut chances, Sahal Abdul Samad took
matters into his own hands as he embarked on a stellar solo run after picking up the
ball from the right flank. The midfielder outfoxed three defenders before Narayan Das
brought him down inside the box, but the referee rejected vociferous appeals for a
penalty.
Blasters were the better side in the first half, although by fine margins. Mohammed
Rafi's drilled cross into the box from the right was met by Rahul KP whose audacious
volley failed to test goalkeeper Francisco Dorronsoro.
The teams struggled to raise the tempo and keep hold of the ball after the break as
well. Odisha threatened when Jerry Mawihmingthanga's cross put TP Rehenesh in a
spot of bother. The goalkeeper spilled the ball inside the box but Nandhakumar Sekar
hit the rebound into the side-netting.
Prasanth Karuthadathkuni had the crowd up on their feet when he cut in from the
right flank and pulled the trigger, only to send the speculative effort over the bar.
There were a couple more chances at either end as the game wound down, but a
goal remained elusive.
With four minutes left, a Prasanth cross from the left was flicked towards the far post
by second-half substitute Bartholomew Ogbeche for Rahul whose firm shot was kept
out by Dorronsoro. Daniel Lalhlimpuia, at the other end, spurned a chance as well as
both teams settled for a point.
UNI XC-BM
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