ISL 2017: Kerala Blasters 1-0 NorthEast United - Vineeth's flying header helps Blasters better 10-man Highlanders
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TP Rehenesh received an early bath in the first half to leave NorthEast United hapless in Kochi...

Kerala Blasters registered their maiden win in the ongoing Indian Super League (ISL) season as they beat NorthEast United FC 1-0 at home. CK Vineeth scored the only goal of the match with a flying header in the first half.

Wes Brown, who made his Kerala Blasters debut, replaced the injured Dimitar Berbatov and conducted play from midfield. Siam Hanghal was brought into midfield, with Courage Pekuson playing in behind Dutchman Mark Sifneos.

The visitors went into the game with Danilo Lopes leading their frontline as expected. Narzary and Doungel were deployed on either flank to provide him support. Rowllin Borges and Marcinho were tasked with overruling Kerala's authority in midfield, with TP Rehenesh in between the sticks.

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Blasters started on the front foot, with Brown instrumental in building up play from the back to the front for the home side. A cross-field masterstroke towards Jackichand Singh on the right flank and a defence-splitting through ball for CK Vineeth triggered the alarm bells in the North Eastern camp.

Marcinho and Danilo Lopes, foreign frontmen for NorthEast United, were a threat to the Kerala defence. Rachubka had to be alert in the 19th minute when Danilo played a quick give and go with Marcinho inside the box and send a powerful shot at him. It was on target but fortunately for the Manchester United academy graduate, Lakic-Pesic was there to deflect it away for a corner. 

Blasters managed to draw first blood after several minutes of persistent pressure. Malayali flavour in the team, CK Vineeth and Rino Anto combined in the 24th minute to send the crowd into delirium. The latter crossed into the centre of the box from the right for the former to send a flying header into the net.

Kerala Blasters FC NorthEast United FC ISL Season 4 2017/2018

NorthEast United were dealt with a huge blow when their goalkeeper TP Rehenesh was given an early bath at the stroke of half-time. A counter initiated by Vineeth's backheel had Courage Pekuson surging up the field. The Ghanaian curled a terrific through ball into the path of Mark Sifneos, taking the entire defensive line out of the equation. As the Dutch forward rounded the goalie to shoot, Rehenesh brought him down.

10-man Highlanders had an uneasy start to the second half as well, typified by Lalruatthara's chance to put the game to bed soon after the restart. 

Pekuson found the India U-23 defender's overlapping run into the box and as the full-back shook the woodwork, the confused NorthEast defenders seemed to be in complete disarray.

The red card punished Danilo Lopes with the added responsibility of trying to make something happen for the visitors in the attack. The no.99 almost created something out of nothing twice as the game moved past the hour-mark. 

The Brazilian forward first forced Sandesh Jhingan to stretch his legs out to end a solo run into the box and then later had Rino Anto diving across goal to prevent his close-range shot at Rachubka. 

NorthEast United couldn't muster an equaliser before the final whistle and the two big moments in the first half - the goal and the red card - swayed the three points towards the home side.

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