NorthEast United 0 – Chennaiyin FC 0
1) Highlanders Remain Unbeaten
NorthEast United continue to occupy the top-four places among the usual suspects. Set in their ways, they ceded possession yet again as they allowed Chennaiyin the most passes (477) they have attempted this season. However, the Highlanders do carry a threat up front and had the best chance of the match. Rochharzela played a delightful defence splitting pass in the sixty-sixth minute which really should have been converted by Idrissa Sylla. They kept plugging away, creating half-decent opportunities, but there wasn’t enough quality on the night to secure three points. No one has solved the NorthEast puzzle yet though, and that will satisfy Gerard Nus for now.
2) Should Chhangte Be Doing More?
One of the earliest pieces on this site and the first profile on an Indian player was about Lallianzuala Chhangte. At that time in 2017, he was being touted as the ‘next big thing’ in Indian football. He has not really delivered on that promise. The Mizo player has fifteen goals in his Indian Super League career and only Sunil Chhetri and Jeje Lalpekhlua among Indians have more. These have come over sixty-three games though and for a winger surprisingly, he has only five assists to show for his efforts. He always carries a threat, like he did against Mumbai in the previous game, but does not have enough end-product to go with it. Chhangte had a couple of glorious opportunities in this game to end Chennaiyin’s recent winless streak but it was not to be. The wait for him to take the next step in his career continues.
Bengaluru FC 4 – Kerala Blasters 2
3) Set-Piece Prowess Brings Own Set Of Problems
The Blues have a habit of leaving a lot of men forward on their set-pieces, which they are admittedly very good at. This has been studied by other sides and many have tried to take advantage. If the first ball is not won by Bengaluru, the threat of a goal on the break exists and after threatening once, the Blasters took the lead in this manner. Thankfully for Cuadrat’s men, their opponents were in a generous mood and gifted numerous scoring opportunities thereafter. Sunil Chhetri’s love for the Panenka at penalties is well-known and for once, he looked a bit foolish attempting one. He is also known to make up for errors though and scored with a brilliant header to seal the points. All the three front men contributed to goals and the Blues continue to build up form.
4) Nightmare Game For Lalruatthara
The 2017-18 Emerging Player of the League winner had a horrid first start of the season. Asked to deputize for suspended captain, Costa Nhamoinesu, in the unfamiliar role of centre-back, he made two errors one would expect from a full-back asked to play that position. Unfortunately for him, Bengaluru capitalized on both. There were plenty of errors at the back and the manager must be worried since Kerala had looked solid in that department at the beginning of the season. Pleasingly, Jordan Murray’s first start went better, and he looked a better option up front than star signing, Gary Hooper. The Blasters still cannot buy a win though and a mid-or-low-placed finish beckons yet again.
Mumbai City FC 1 – Jamshedpur FC 1
5) Rusty Ogbeche Left To Rue Missed Chances
Bartholomew Ogbeche isn’t used to not being the main man. The player leads the all-time goal scoring charts for both NorthEast United and Kerala Blasters despite spending only a season at either club. He has now joined a Mumbai side that also has Adam le Fondre in its ranks. Sergio Lobera has alternated between the two generally and when he has done that, Mumbai have won. In the two games that both of them have started together, the Islanders have walked away with a loss and a draw. In fairness to both, they worked well together against Jamshedpur and Ogbeche got his goal after good work from Adam, with Bipin Singh acting as a conduit. The Nigerian had a staggering nine attempts on goal though and he will be disappointed not to get more. If Lobera reverts to type, he could be the one to make way yet again.
6) Frustrated Coyle Has A Go At The Refs
When your team is unbeaten in five games and only have seven points to show for it, a manager is bound to be a bit disappointed. That may explain his post-game comments where he shared his frustrations about the refereeing in this country. He does have a point in general, but it was slightly ironic that his views followed a game where the officials got all the decisions right. If he was referring to the second yellow card that sent Aitor Monroy to the lockers early, he does not have much of a case. Monroy was vociferous in his appeals for Eugeneson Lyngdoh to be sent off for a similar offense in the previous match and the Spaniard had a taste of sweet karma in return. Jamshedpur were brilliant in their response to the sending off though. It is hard enough to limit this Mumbai side with eleven men on the park. To do so with ten requires a great amount of heart and the Red Miners showed that in spades.
Hyderabad FC 3 – SC East Bengal 2
7) Roca’s Team Take Home Deserved Points
This was not as close a game as the score line suggests. Hyderabad scored three goals but could have had many more but for profligate finishing. They had twenty-one attempts on goal with seven shots on target, including a penalty which was brilliantly saved by Debjit Majumdar. Aridane Santana was back and if he had converted his spot-kick, would have had for himself the first hattrick of the season. The young Indian players continue to develop with every outing and while Manuel Roca will not have been happy to concede two at the back, his team are now within touching distance of the top four.
8) East Bengal Making Everyone Look Better
The Red-And-Gold brigade finally had a goal to celebrate this season when they opened the scoring in the twenty-sixth minute. When Majumdar saved the penalty at the end of the first half, it even looked like lady luck was finally with Robbie Fowler’s men. It turned out to be a false dawn, however. It was Hyderabad who continued to pile on the pressure in the second half. East Bengal looked off the pace throughout and frankly, made their opposition look better than they actually were. On a positive note, the foreign players had a hand in both their goals. Matti Steinmann fed Jacques Maghoma for the first after good work by Anthony Pilkington on the flanks and the Irishman whipped in the free kick that secured the Congolese player’s brace. They will take some confidence from those efforts.
ATK Mohun Bagan 1 – FC Goa 0
9) Habas Produces Coaching Masterclass
How often have we seen this now? Only twenty-seven percent of the ball but more shots on goal than the other team. Antonio López Habas has made an ISL career out of these numbers and has two titles to show for his efforts. His side disrupted Goa’s game plan from the off; never letting them settle while pressing with relentlessness all over the park. Igor Angulo was isolated for large portions of the game and it was the Mariners who carried all the threat. Carl McHugh was immense in front of the back four. He was extremely lucky not to have conceded a penalty late in the game that could have won it for the Gaurs but did not put another foot wrong through the night. Roy Krishna scored the obligatory late goal and ATK Mohun Bagan are back on track after a couple of bad results.
10) Team Selections Cost the Gaurs
Presented with a chance to go second in the table, Juan Ferrando sprung a surprise by leaving Brandon Fernandes and Jorge Ortiz on the bench. By leaving the two players who have formed a working partnership with Angulo out of his lineup, he was asking for trouble. And got it. Edu Bedia and Alberto Noguera struggled against the ATK Mohun Bagan press and the physicality of their players. It was only when the aforementioned players were introduced; albeit late in the proceedings, that the Gaurs started playing through the lines. In introducing Ortiz, he had to sacrifice Iván Garrido at the back and his replacement, Aiban Dohling, needlessly conceded the penalty that cost Goa the game. A night to write off for the manager.
Image Credit – Indian Super League Official Twitter Page