Delhi Dynamos 1 – ATK 2
1) Late Goals Hurting Dynamos Yet Again
Delhi made a habit of dropping points in the closing stages of matches last season and it cost them dearly. They certainly haven’t learnt from that experience, conceding an 88thminute equalizer to Pune in their first game and a winner in the 84thminute to ATK in their second. Yet again, Josep Gombau’s side played some pleasing football easy on the eye, even though they did miss Marcos Tebar’s influence in the middle of the park. His injury meant that Delhi could bring on yet another young Indian player for a full ISL debut in Shubham Sarangi and while he was not on the park when ATK broke for the winner, the Dynamos could have done with the experience of Tebar and Bikramjit Singh in the middle of the field.
2) Super Sub Makes The Difference
Noussiar El Maimouni had only been on the field for a minute when he produced a rare ATK attempt on target. The man who had done a decent job of breaking up play in the first two games, leading his team on tackles, then went one better a couple of minutes later. He took the ball off Adria Carmona deep in his own half and started a flowing move which resulted in a Jayesh Rane cutback at the other end, which he finished with aplomb. After two disappointing results at home, an away win was just what the doctor ordered for the two-time champions and they will hope that their campaign has kicked into gear.
Chennaiyin FC 3 – NorthEast United 4
3) Marina Machans Defence Put To The Sword
When Thoi Singh put Chennaiyin 2-0 up within fifteen minutes, there was no indication of the drama to come. The Machans had been in total control of proceedings and NorthEast were being run ragged. The first goal from the Highlanders came completely against the run of play and after another Chennaiyin effort was ruled out for offside. The ball fell kindly a couple of times for NorthEast before Ogbeche buried his effort in but what followed after did not reflect well on the Chennaiyin defence. Eelco Schattorie mentioned after the game that he had seen something in the opposition ranks to exploit and the ball over the top might be an option more managers will use against John Gregory’s men.
4) Ogbeche Shows His Quality
I had painted a bleak picture for NorthEast United in my season preview, but had mentioned that Bartholomew Ogbeche was an interesting signing. It is unusual for someone to move from one of Europe’s top leagues to the ISL but Ogbeche did just that. Having played with distinction for Willem II in the Eredivisie from 2016 till earlier this year, the 34-year-old still has a few good years left in him. He showed all of that quality against Chennaiyin driving their backline to distraction throughout the game. A first half hattrick was just reward for his efforts and opposition defences have been warned.
Mumbai City FC 2 – FC Pune City 0
5) Mumbai’s Dependence On Machado
When Jorge Costa took over at Mumbai, he brought in someone he knew quite well in countryman, Paulo Machado, to strengthen the midfield and add some offensive threat. Matias Mirabaje’s injury troubles have meant that the onus of creating opportunities from a deeper position has fallen on the Portuguese player and he has embraced the responsibility. No other Mumbai player has made more than his six key passes in the three games played so far and in a side that is far more adept at disrupting the opposition than creating themselves, he has been a key ingredient.
6) No Joy From The Flanks For Pune
Miguel Angel Portugal spoke freely about how his team attack in the presser before this game. He alluded to how his team liked to play inside when the opposition was open and how crosses from forward positions were the option if that were not the case. Ashique Kuruniyan and Jakob Vanlalhlimpuia had fulfilled the second brief well in the first game but it was altogether a different proposition against Mumbai. Kuruniyan and Nikhil Poojari, who came in for Vanlalhlimpuia, struggled to get on the ball with the Islanders quick to close any space down. A frustrated Emiliano Alfaro was left dropping into the channels to get the ball for large portions of the game. Diego Carlos, who came on in the second half to change things around against Delhi, was again their best player and Pune have decisions to make about the makeup of their side.
Kerala Blasters 1 – Delhi Dynamos 1
7) Kerala Unlucky To Concede
The Blasters rode on the fervent support of their fans on a loud, rainy night in Kochi. They had the better of the chances throughout and with better finishing, should have been home and dry midway through the second half. C.K. Vineeth has made a habit of scoring in front of the home crowd, and he tucked in his sixth in the last eight matches at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium. If Sandesh Jhingan had not developed a cramp while clearing a ball into the box leaving him flat on the ground when the ball came back into the position he had initially occupied, Kerala would have ended the game with three points. It was a frustrating end to the game for the home fans, but they would have been encouraged by the performance of their team.
8) Kaludjerovic On The Scoresheet But Questions Remain
Andrija Kaludjerovic was brought in to replace Kalu Uche, who had moved to ATK. While Uche has not exactly set the world on fire at his new club, he was immense for Delhi last season, especially towards the end of the season. He had the knack of being at the right place at the right time and ended up with 13 goals in 15 matches. The Dynamos do not have much of a goal threat this season, save Kaludjerovic, and while he took his chance well in this match, Delhi will want more from their target man as the season progresses.
Jamshedpur FC 1 – ATK 1
9) The Tale Of A Goalkeeper Howler
Jamshedpur had done well to control proceedings during Steve Coppell’s first visit back to his former arena at the JRD Tata Sports Complex. Cesar Ferrando has added some Spanish flair to the squad bequeathed to him and they played with no little amount of swagger. They attempted nearly double the number of passes as ATK with a completion percentage of 81%, a stark contrast to the 65% achieved by the team from Kolkata. It is shame then that ATK got a goal out of nowhere. Manuel Lanzarote whipped in a corner which goalkeeper, Subhasish Roy Chowdhury tried to palm over the crossbar instead of catching the ball, or at the least, punching out to safety. All he managed was fingertips on the ball while guiding it safely into the back of the net. It is not a replay he will want to watch.
10) And Another
At the other end of the pitch, Chowdhury’s opposite number, Arindam Bhattacharja, was having a busy time of it. Jamshedpur were not shying away from taking shots, and while a few were off target, the goalkeeper was being peppered time and again. It helped that most of them were hit straight at him, making them easier to deal with. That was not the case with Cidoncha’s freekick from distance but it was still close enough for him to save comfortably. That would not be the case, and he made a hash of covering the flight and trajectory of the ball, allowing the ball to loop over him and into the goal. Not a good night for goalkeepers.
FC Pune City 0 – Bengaluru FC 3
11) The Stallions Have A Problem At Centre Back
Pune’s defence last season was built around young Indian players and this brought about inconsistent performances on the field. The franchise decided to strengthen in this area, especially at centre back, and in came the experienced Matt Mills and Martin Diaz. The pair have not settled in however, and there seems to be a nervousness that has currently spread across players in defensive areas. Diaz has been substituted early in all three matches and looked off the pace against Miku in this game. Sahil Panwar, who had moved inside on the substitution, was shrugged aside easily as well on the third goal. Pune look better going forward now that Marcelinho is back, but they need some answers fast at the back.
12) Sunil Chhetri Answers A Few Questions
Eyebrows were raised in the recent international against China with national coach, Stephen Constantine deciding to hand the captain’s armband to Sandesh Jhingan. It was not the first time he had taken it away from Sunil Chhetri, having done the same in the impressive win against Puerto Rico in 2016, when he made Gurpreet Singh Sandhu the skipper for that occasion. There have been rumours of disquiet between the coach and permanent skipper and Chhetri’s slow start to this campaign has led to suggestions that India’s best player may be on the decline. Pune seem to be favoured opposition of late for Chhetri though. He scored a hattrick against them in the second leg of their semi-final encounter last season and he should really have had another in this game. While he did miss a couple of golden opportunities, the way he took his two goals suggest that the old fox might still have a few tricks up his sleeve.