ISL 2017: Kerala Blasters, ATK settle for point each in opener

ANI | Updated: Nov 18, 2017 13:05 IST

ISL 2017: Kerala Blasters, ATK settle for point each in opener .

Kochi [India], November 18 (ANI): Kerala Blasters and ATK played out an entertaining goalless draw in front of a packed house in the Indian Super League's (ISL) season opener at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Kochi last evening .

Both teams took a combined 17 shots, attempted a combined 34 crosses and pumped in 11 corners, but to no avail .

This was also the first stalemate between the two sides, with ATK failing to win their first away match of a season for the first time in ISL history .

Neither team took a lot of time to warm up, with both defences opened up in the early exchanges .

Milan Singh sent a rasping shot narrowly past the post within the first five minutes, but the best chance of the first 45 minutes fell to ATK's Hitesh Sharma .

The ball fell kindly for him after good play down the right by Rupert Nongrum, and his shot from a one-on-one situation was carried away by onrushing goalkeeper Paul Rachubka .

ATK then saw their tricky winger Zequinha's curling shot hit the post; its clatter triggering a sigh of relief in the stadium . The visitors may have nipped it in terms of the better chances created, but Kerala Blasters will rue the missed opportunities they had to score .

Former Manchester United striker Dimitar Berbatov was left waiting for a good cross too many times and Iain Hume's industry proved futile with the former ATK forward taken off at the hour mark .

While ATK relied on slow build-up play, Blasters looked for quick breaks going forward . Berbatov slowly but surely grew into the game, setting up a few attacks with his trademark perfectly weighted passes and it was his expert touch that set up both CK Vineeth and Rino Anto down the right whenever they went forward . The Blasters made good use of set-pieces as well, but Sandesh Jhingan's attempts skidded off his head amid a crowd of defenders in red and white .

The home side started the second half brightly, with Berbatov and Courage Pekuson combining to put Vineeth through down the left . He cut in and shot but it was palmed away by Debjit Majumder, who had earlier frustrated Berbatov in trying to find space to pull the trigger .

As Kerala grew wasteful, ATK gained confidence, especially after Robin Singh replaced Finnish striker Njazi Kuqi . But the Indian No . 9 couldn't convert a low cross on his stronger left side .(ANI)

iocl