Kolkata, Sep 30: Kerala Blasters FC registered their first win in Kolkata and handed Atletico de Kolkata (ATK) their first defeat in the opener as they scripted a 2-0 victory in the opening match of the Hero Indian Super League 2018-19 season at Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan here on Saturday.
The teams were locked goalless in the first 45 minutes but second half goals from European imports Slovenian Matej Poplatnik (77th) and Serbian Slaviša Stojanović (86th) made the difference. The David James-coached outfit looked more confident from the start with Slovenian Poplatnik continuously raiding ATK's box before he broke the deadlock in the 77th minute. ATK's defence in Aiborlang Khongjee, Gerson Vieira, John Johnson, Lalhmangaisanga Ralte looked a bit shaky in front of the action from the Blasters.There was more misery in store for ATK as the Serbian Stojanovic doubled the lead from a long ball from Halicharan Narzary.
Five minutes later, the Slovenian forward was in the forefront again following another cross from Lalruatthara but his rasping shot was blocked well by Gerson Vieira. In the 11th minute, Lakic-Pesic’s inch-perfect header from a Poplatnik corner was cleared brilliantly off the goal-line by Sena Ralte.
Most of the time, ATK looked rusty in the opening exchanges and were sloppy in ball possession.
Kerala Blasters brand ambassador Mohanlal took to Twitter and appreciate Kerala Blasters: “Great start of the season with a great victory. Kudos to our team. #KeralaBlasters”.
Earlier, Indian athletics golden girl Hima Das presented the ceremonial match ball to kick off the fifth season of the top-tier league. (PenNews with input from UNI)