A first-half goal from Sahal Abdul Samad was all that separated Kerala Blasters and Jamshedpur at the end of their 2021/22 Indian Super League semi-final first leg in Fatorda. The league stage winners will look to overturn the deficit in the second leg on March 15.
Blasters had pushed their way into the front of the queue to qualify for the playoffs, beating competition from Mumbai City, Bengaluru, and Odisha. It could be that the Blasters push their way through to the final; they beat Jamshedpur 1-0 in the first leg of the semi-final, courtesy of a first-half goal from Sahal Abdul Samad.
Fresh from their league stage win, Jamshedpur dominated the opening exchanges of the game. Daniel Chima Chukwu should have put the Red Miners ahead in the 10th minute when he found a yard of space inside the box and set a volley up for himself by chesting the ball down into his path ahead of his marker – but he shot wide. Ten minutes later, Chukwu dragged another shot wide of the near post, and Kerala escaped unharmed again.
A well-worked set-piece from Greg Stewart released Mobashir Rahman inside the box in the 35th minute, but the first-half substitute placed his subsequent shot on the wrong side of the woodwork. All of Jamshedpur’s wastefulness came back to bite them when, just three minutes later, Sahal got to the end of a pass from Alvaro Vazquez – intercepted but cushioned into the youngster’s path by Eli Sabia – before lifting the ball over an onrushing TP Rehenesh and into the net.
Jorge Pereyra Diaz would have doubled Kerala’s lead in the 58th minute had he directed his header an inch on either side of the goalkeeper – his effort, instead, was straight at the Rehenesh. In the very next play, from a freekick out on the left, Adrian Luna rattled the far post, Kerala now assuming the role of the more dominant side of the two.
In response, Jamshedpur could only muster a late shot across the Kerala goal through super-sub Ishan Pandita but, unable to turn the deficit, failed to win for the first time in seven games. The return leg is scheduled for March 15, where the Red Miners will need to score at least twice to make it to the final.