Captain Harmanjot Singh Khabra’s throw into the box was flicked on towards Vazquez by Sahal Abdul Samad. For a moment, it looked like Asish Rai had taken the ball away from Blasters’ Spanish striker with a headed touch, but Vazquez readjusted his position to send a vicious volley into the back of the net.
That 42nd-minute strike launched Kerala to the top of the table for the first time since the inaugural 2014 season under former England goalkeeper David James. Their nine-match unbeaten run means Blasters have 17 points from 10 games – the same as Mumbai City, but the Kerala side enjoy a better goal difference.
The pendulum swung to and forth for the entirety of the game and it was the Nizams who began the game strongly. Harmanjot went into the referee’s book early after denying Aniket Jadhav a run on goal in the seventh minute.
Prabhsukhan Singh Gill had to tip Edu Garcia’s effort from the resulting free-kick onto the crossbar as Hyderabad looked threatening. However, the Blasters front three gained their rhythm as the half progressed.
The Yellow Army had their first big chance in the 24th minute when defender Hormipam Ruivah initiated an attack by robbing the ball from Bartholomew Ogbeche. Adrian Luna played in an inch-perfect cross to Jorge Pereyra Diaz whose header from close was brilliantly parried away by Laxmikant Kattimani.
Pereyra had another chance to pull the trigger in the 37th minute after being fed by Luna, but the Argentine attacker’s threat was negotiated by the Hyderabad defence on that occasion. They were, however, finally rewarded when Vazquez broke the deadlock three minutes before the interval.
Hyderabad had the better of chances in a stop-start second period. Ogbeche’s free-kick flew inches wide after taking a deflection on its way towards goal at the hour mark while Jessel Carneiro had to clear substitute Javier Siverio’s shot off the line in the 80th minute.
Blasters will now face Odisha FC on Wednesday while Hyderabad, who are third with 16 points, will lock horns with Chennaiyin FC the following day.