Kerala Blasters registered their first win of the season with a comfortable 2-0 win over Hyderabad at Bambolim on Sunday.
Abdul Hakku's header (29') put Kerala ahead in the first half before Jordan Murray (88') sealed three points for Kibu Vicuna's side.
Vicuna pulled a surprise, ringing in five changes to the side that started the draw against SC East Bengal - with big names Gary Hooper, Costa Nhamoinesu, Bakary Kone dropping out and an all-Indian defence stepping in. Both sides opted to start with just the three foreign players each.
Kerala started on a bright note and had a chance to break the deadlock early on when an error from Asish Rai got Hyderabad in trouble. Sahal pounced on Rai's poor touch and squared the ball but Odei Onaindia thwarted the danger with a vital tackle.
Hyderabad created a few half-chances but with Aridane Santana's finishing weak, they couldn't capitalise.
Kerala grabbed the opener just before the half-hour mark through a set-piece. Facundo Pereyra whipped an inch-perfect corner for Hakku, who bagged his first ISL goal with a thumping header.
Hyderabad rallied back after conceding, pushing hard for the equaliser and came close before the end of the first half after some good build-up play. Rai squared the ball for Santana in the box but the latter fluffed his lines and failed to get his shot on target.
Kerala piled the pressure on Hyderabad in the second half, and carved out great opportunities to double their tally before the hour mark. The first was when Pereyra threaded in a ball for Sahal in the box. He created space and only had the keeper to beat but his mishit found the side netting. Minutes later, Subrata Pal produced a top-notch save after diving full-stretch to keep Rahul KP's deflected shot out for a corner.
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Hyderabad went all-out in search of an equaliser, but just like the first half, failed to convert their chances. The best opportunity fell to Halicharan Narzary in the 80th minute, but he miscued his shot. Receiving the ball on the left, the winger cut inside looking to find the far corner but saw his effort sail over the bar.
However, their hopes of making any comeback were swept away when Murray put the game to bed late on. Substitute Adil Khan failed to deal with a cross in the box and it fell to Murray, who made no mistake and volleyed his shot into the bottom corner.
Kerala are still ninth, but with 6 points in seven, are just three points off eighth place Hyderabad FC. Kerala now face table-topping Mumbai City on Jan 2, Hyderabad take on FC Goa on Dec 30.