Kerala Blasters ended Hyderabad FC's unbeaten run in this season's Hero Indian Super League (ISL) with a hard-fought 1-0 victory at the GMC Balayogi Athletic Stadium, here on Saturday.
Dimitrios Diamantakos ('18) scored the only goal of the game to take the Kerala Blasters to third place in the league.
Hyderabad FC were going to retain their place at the top of the table regardless of the result, and were heading into this tie on the back of four straight 1-0 victories.
Kerala Blasters and Ivan Vukomanovic are on the road to recovery with convincing wins in their last three matches after a slow start to the season.
Manolo Marquez made three changes to the Hyderabad FC line up after the win against Jamshedpur FC. Kerala Blasters were unchanged from their last win.
Hyderabad FC had most of the possession in the first half, but the away side were solid at the back, and limited the defending champions to half chances for most of the half.
Kerala Blasters took the lead thanks to some excellent work from Adrian Luna in the build up to the goal in the 18th minute. The Uruguayan found some space in the pockets, before playing an ambitious lobbed pass into the path of an onrushing Nishu Kumar.
Hyderabad FC's Anuj Kumar came charging out of his line to prevent the ball from reaching Nishu Kumar, but his push wasn't strong enough, and went straight into the path of Dimitrios Diamantakos, who slammed the ball into the net.
Hyderabad FC's best chance of the game came just before the half-time whistle was blown. Bartholomew Ogbeche, the leading goalscorer in ISL history, did not get the right contact on his header after finding himself free on the far post from a free-kick at the edge of the box.
The second-half started with both teams looking a bit more open. Hyderabad FC were pushing men forward, and Kerala Blasters looked eager to get the second goal.
Things settled down after the first 10 minutes of the second-half, however. Hyderabad FC continued to push for the goal, but just couldn't manufacture a great chance.
Hyderabad FC's lack of thrust in the final third might force Manolo Marquez to switch things up going forward. They will be heading to the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata next week to face ATK Mohun Bagan.
On the other hand, Kerala Blasters will be heading to the JRD Tata Sports Complex in Jamshedpur to face Jamshedpur FC.