ISL 2022-23: Sahal brace leads Kerala Blasters to 3-0 win over NorthEast United

Dimitrios Diamantakos celebrates his opener for Kerala Blasters against NorthEast United.
Dimitrios Diamantakos celebrates his opener for Kerala Blasters against NorthEast United.
Vipin Pawar/Focus Sports/ ISL

Kerala Blasters got their season back on track in the Indian Super League (ISL) after a 3-0 victory over NorthEast United FC at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati. Dimitrios Diamantakos gave the Blasters the lead in the 56th minute, before Sahal Abdul Samad sealed the win with a late brace.

Ivan Vukomanovic made five changes to the Kerala Blasters line-up, with three changes in defence. NorthEast United FC stuck with the 5-3-2 formation for the second game straight.

The game started slowly with neither side willing to risk anything, cancelling each other out in midfield, and struggling to carve out chances in the final third.

Romain Philippoteaux hit the woodwork from range after a little run from midfield in the eighth minute for NorthEast, and Diamantakos found some space in behind in the 40th minute for Kerala Blasters, but his shot went wide. The two goalkeepers weren't asked to make any saves either as the first half ended 0-0.

The coaches did not make any changes heading into the second half, but the two teams showed more directness by taking a few shots early in the half. The plan paid off for Kerala Blasters in the 56th minute. Saurav Mandal was played through by Rahul KP, and then Diamantakos added the finishing touch to an excellent team move.

NorthEast United came extremely close to equalising twice in the space of two minutes. The first chance fell to Imran Khan, who got on the end of a brilliant cross, but could not get the right connection. Emil Benny got on the end of an even better chance a minute later after being played through by Matt Derbyshire. Despite rounding the goalkeeper, Benny's touch was too heavy, and ultimately not even resulting in a shot.

NorthEast United FC were punished two minutes later by Sahal, who finished off a rapid counterattack to give the Blasters a 2-0 lead. The substitute added another goal six minutes into second-half stoppage time to give his side a 3-0 victory.