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Heartbreak for Chennaiyin after spirited comeback

Two sending offs. A missed penalty. An own goal. A last-minute leveller.  Extra time. And a late winner. At the end of a dramatic semi-final second leg in Chennai, Kerala Blasters FC became the first Hero Indian Super League finalist with a 4-3 aggregate win after losing the second leg 3-1 to Chennaiyin FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Tuesday night.

The game started at a frenetic pace as Chennaiyin set about overturning the 3-0 first-leg deficit, with captain Bernard Mendy being deployed in an advanced role. Kerala were content playing on the counter, trusting their defence to soak up the pressure. There were close shaves at either end, first off a Kerala corner when Michael Chopra’s header was cleared off the line by Harmanjot Khabra, and then Jean Eudes-Maurice’s scuffed effort that was just stopped from entering the goal by Kerala defender Colin Falvey.

Kerala’s counter-attacking strategy was working well, and they nearly stretched their first-leg lead when Chopra and Iain Hume had a neat exchange of passes on a breakaway, but Chennaiyin keeper Shilton Paul was quick off his line to clear the ball. The complexion of the tie soon changed dramatically when Blasters defender Jamie McAllister, who had been booked for time-wasting in the eighth minute, received his marching orders for a second yellow card after a foul on Mendy in the 28th minute.

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