FC Goa 4 – FC Pune City 2
1) Coro Sees Red Unnecessarily
Ferran Corominas was Goa’s star last season, scoring 18 goals and obliterating the record for most goals in a season along the way. It was only a matter of time before Iain Hume’s all-time record of 28 was broken this season, and he’s only been playing in the league for a year. This game against Pune was his 24thappearance and with a couple of goals, took his tally to six for the season in four games, and 24 overall. One goal a game. No other striker comes close to that strike rate. Which is why it would have frustrated Sergio Lobera to see his talisman pick up an unnecessary red card with the game done and dusted. Coro’s influence on the field has increased with Manuel Lanzarote’s departure and it remains to be seen if the Gaurs will cope without him in the next couple of games.
2) An Indian Coach Gets His Chance
ISL teams have always looked outside the country for their head coaches and while Miguel Angel Portugal’s departure after just three games in charge saw the earliest ever sacking in the ISL, it gave an opportunity to the Technical Director, Pradyum Reddy, to take charge of the team on an interim basis. Pune were expected to challenge for the title this season with the quality at their disposal and unconvincing performances in the first few games probably tipped the scales against Portugal. While the defence in this game still looked a shambles, even with the addition of the experienced Ashutosh Mehta and Gurtej Singh, Pune looked threatening in attack and that must please Reddy. The former BFC assistant coach may not have too long on the job, but if he could steady the ship for a few games, he would have done good work.
Jamshedpur FC 2 – Kerala Blasters 2
3) Soosairaj Flies The Flag For I-League Quality
The much reviled Super Cup last season showed that there wasn’t too much difference in the quality of football produced by the ISL and I-League sides. While players who perform in the I-League have been making the lucrative move to ISL sides, in the short term, it seems to be helping all parties concerned. The money coming in from player sales help a lot of I-League teams with their budgets, and this has been the case with Chennai City as well. Michael Soosairaj was a player in demand before the beginning of last season but was convinced to play another season in the I-League and the move worked brilliantly. He starred for Chennai and was named the league’s best midfielder by the AIFF. His performances this season for Jamshedpur have caught the eye and he capped a good performance against Kerala, especially in the first half, with a well taken goal.
4) Abdul Samad Making A Huge Impression
Seminlen Doungel got all the plaudits for providing the two assists against Jamshedpur, and rightly so, making a nuisance of himself on the left flank after coming on midway through the second half. However, the game changed on two halftime substitutions by David James. Kerala were abysmal in the first half and were crying out for some creativity in the middle of the park. The youngster, Sahal Abdul Samad, provided just that and ran the show in the second half. After getting only 13 minutes of action last year, the youngster has impressed with his ability on the ball, control in tight spaces and a passing range involving both feet. He is an exciting talent and will only get better.
Delhi Dynamos 0 – NorthEast United 2
5) Delhi’s Woes Continue
This was one of those games from which Delhi could take nothing away. They were that bad. In the earlier games, even if results were not going their way, one could refer to the way they kept possession of the ball. Josep Gombau’s men did not even do that on this occasion. They were outclassed completely, and it was a surprise that they held on till towards the end of the game. Opposite number, Eelco Schattorie, had mentioned before the match began that the Lions would be in the top three if he were in charge, and while that comment may have been a bit disrespectful, Gombau must be worried about holding onto his job.
6) Gallego Runs The Show Yet Again
Bartholomew Ogbeche and Federico Gallego have made all the difference to this NorthEast side, who despite all odds, find themselves on top of the table. Ogboche has the goals but it is Gallego who makes this side tick, and he has been central to the Highlanders attack this season. Whenever he has been stopped, as he was in the narrow win against ten-man ATK, the Highlanders have struggled to create. In this game though, he broke the deadlock with a well taken strike before unselfishly squaring a pass for Ogbeche to find an empty net. Sooner or later, other teams will have newer plans to stop NorthEast, but at the moment, there is no stopping them.
ATK 1 – Bengaluru FC 2
7) Thatal Announces Himself Into The Big Time
A 16 year old boy made a big impression on everyone watching India’s opener against the USA in the U-17 World Cup last year. India may have lost the game but the boy with a blond hairdo attracted attention with his runs on the left flank and he troubled the American defenders more than others in that game. He did not make another appearance for Luis Norton’s side, with the manager later rumoured to have fallen out with his player for disciplinary reasons, and while a dream move to ATK followed, the youngster only played fifteen minutes last season. He has started ATK’s last four fixtures on the right wing and has impressed sporadically. He had his first goal in this game, and even though his first touch was poor on a delicious Everton Santos through ball, the finish to beat Gurpreet Singh was impressive. He is nowhere near the finished article but if he cuts down on the flashiness and works hard, a good career may be in the offing.
8) Paartalu Impresses Yet Again
After a sluggish start to the season, Bengaluru have picked up steam and the big Aussie in the middle of the park has put in a couple of good performances. He was immense against ATK, winning the ball in different parts of the pitch and linking defence with attack. Ever since he joined in July 2017, Paartalu has had the happy knack of contributing vital goals on set pieces and he had his first of the season off yet another ball into the box, the ball dropping kindly for him to trash the ball home. He has formed a vital partnership with Harmanjot Khabra in midfield and while the return of Dimas Delgado has helped hugely, BFC cannot afford to miss Paartalu at any stage of the competition this year.
Jamshedpur FC 4 – FC Goa 1
9) Ferrando’s Changes Work A Treat
Eyebrows were raised when the Jamshedpur manager made five changes from the side that started the game against Kerala, including rejigging the entire back four, save Tiri. Given that they had played only three nights earlier, it was probably the right call and his side delivered. The Red Miners outclassed the side playing the best football in the league and gave them a taste of their own medicine. It was Jamshedpur’s biggest ever win in the ISL and the football faithful in the city were treated to a great performance by their team, with Sergio Cidoncha pulling the strings. They had 24 goal attempts with nine shots on target. It is fair to say that they will not have too many better nights this season.
10) Palanca Cuts A Lone Figure Up Front
Miguel Palanca was entrusted with the job Coro has fulfilled so well for a while now and he failed on the day. To be fair, most players in a Goa shirt put in poor performances. Jamshedpur cut off the supply lines from Ahmed Jahouh and the front four struggled to make any impact in the final third. Palanca was an isolated figure for most of the game and did not have a single shot on goal, let alone one on target. Goa had no answers on the day and will hope to make things right when they take on struggling Delhi at home in their next game.