Odisha FC 1 – Bengaluru FC 2
1) Four Defeats In A Row For Odisha
The Juggernauts lost four in a row for the first time in their short existence. They were all against the big boys: ATK Mohun Bagan, Mumbai, Goa and Bengaluru. Except for the point against Jamshedpur, they have nothing to show for their efforts in six matches. They are progressively getting better though, and the players have started to gel without Marcelinho in the starting lineup. Odisha troubled Bengaluru from the start and should have had led when Diego Mauricio played a fine through ball for the former Blues player, Manuel Onwu, to slot home. As has often been the case in this league, the linesman flagged wrongly for offside. It changed the complexion of the game and Steven Taylor’s goal was merely a footnote in the end.
2) Chhetri’s Headers Have Got Game
At the end of the game, Sunil Chhetri bristled at the suggestion from TV presenter, Anant Tyagi, that he was 5’6’’ in height. He certainly did not like losing the extra inch that Tyagi had so casually removed on air. He must have loved the rest of what was said though. No player in the league had scored more than the eleven headed goals he has conjured up since Bengaluru’s admission into the ISL in 2017-18. It is an incredible stat for a player who is one of the shortest strikers going around. He has obviously worked very hard at them with the Blues staff; often peeling off to match up against a full-back instead of more robust central defenders. Harmanjot Khabra floated in the perfect cross for the second game in a row and the captain made no mistake this time around as well. After a slow start, he is hitting his stride.
NorthEast United 0 – Jamshedpur FC 1
3) Penalty Woes For Highlanders
No team has been awarded more than the four penalties NorthEast United have received this season. Also, no team has missed as many (two). Kwesi Appiah had missed one against the Blasters and here, Idrissa Sylla missed the chance to draw the Highlanders level in the match. Gerard Nus only started both strikers together for the second time this season. The move had paid off the last time around as a hapless East Bengal were dispensed with. With Nus preferring to play a foreign centre-back pairing and defensive midfielder in most matches, Luís Machado had to be content with a place on the bench. The Portuguese midfielder is an important creative influence though and once Jamshedpur scored, he was immediately brought on. He had a big impact, but NorthEast ended the night with their first defeat of the season.
4) Miners Climb Up Table
Jamshedpur kept their unbeaten run going with victory for only the second time this season. Owen Coyle had been frustrated with the number of draws they were racking up and would be pleased to get three points that allow them to make progress in the table. The huge dependence on Nerijus Valskis for goals came to the fore in the stalemate with East Bengal last week. Young Aniket Jadhav was a big culprit on that occasion when he blazed over the bar on a great opportunity. He made up for it here when he turned in a Jackichand Singh pull-back for his first goal of the season. The ‘cross and Valskis will score’ strategy does not work every time and the Miners will welcome goals from all quarters.
FC Goa 1 – Chennaiyin FC 2
5) Gaurs Play Their Part In Thriller
This fixture always promises goals. There were twenty-one of them last season across four matches, including the playoffs. Chennaiyin won that semifinal over two legs and took this game as well by the odd goal in three. Goa, as expected, had 61% possession and played their part in one of the best games of the season. Juan Ferrando was criticized for leaving Jorge Ortiz and Brandon Fernandes out of the lineup against ATK Mohun Bagan. He did not repeat that mistake here and Ortiz conjured up a great goal by teeing up Alexander Romario Jesuraj on the flanks before continuing his run to finish the pull-back. The Gaurs plugged away all night and had nineteen efforts on goal but Chennaiyin had the better chances and probably deserved the win.
6) Another Goal-Of-The-Season Contender From Crivellaro
Rafael Crivellaro lost out to Bartholomew Ogbeche on the Fan’s Goal Of The Season last year. His effort from near the halfway line against NorthEast United was a stunner and the Brazilian probably felt robbed after the vote. He has put himself back into contention this season though with an incredible effort from a corner against the Gaurs. With Mohammad Nawaz crowded out in goal, he got the desired height and bend to beat Aiban Dohling at the far post. It was a brilliant effort and sent the Machans on their way as early as the fifth minute. He was not done. Rahim Ali found himself with the easiest of tap-ins in the second half after Crivellaro turned James Donachie inside out in the box. One could focus on the six big chances Chennaiyin missed along the way and that is the sort of profligacy that will cost them dearly on another night, but Csaba László and his men should be allowed to savour their first win in five.
Hyderabad FC 0 – Mumbai City FC 2
7) Nizams Outclassed For Once
Hyderabad have been a breath of fresh air. Unable to fill their foreign quota of players on the pitch, they have confounded expectations right through the season. However, the most improved team in the league came up here against the squad with the most quality and came up short. Mumbai controlled the game very well in the middle of the park and the Nizams hardly had a sniff of goal. They had the same amount of shots as the Islanders but none of them were on target. Hyderabad were hardly humiliated though. If Manuel Roca were told at the beginning of the season that his team would only lose their first game in the sixth round, he would have gladly taken that outcome.
8) Quality Indian Assist-Goal Combination
Indian players do get their assists in every season but the top goal scorers are usually from amongst the foreign contingent for most teams. Bipin Singh and Vignesh Dakshinamurthy combined to provide a rare bit of combination play in this fixture. It has been a while since a local player has shown fabulous footwork on both the assist and the goal. Ahmed Jahouh played a cross field ball which was controlled in the air and brilliantly directed into the box by Bipin. Vignesh had made a run from the full-back position and he unleashed a great left-foot volley without allowing the ball to drop. The Mysore-born player has made the most of Mandar Rao Dessai’s absence from the team and on the evidence so far, the Goan may not slot back in as easily as he thinks.
Kerala Blasters 1 – SC East Bengal 1
9) Blasters Limp On
Kerala would have gone into this game hoping to come out of it with a first win of the season. They were up against the bottom-placed team in the league after all. The way the Blasters have been playing though, it was still going to be a massive task and so it proved. They may have had a bulk of possession but there was a distinct lack of quality in the final third yet again. Sixty percent of their goals have come from set-pieces and their reliance on them showed. A corner in the 95th minute missed everyone and rolled kindly into the path of the recalled Sahal Abdul Samad. He floated a ball back in which found Jeakson Singh’s head and India’s only FIFA World Cup goal scorer had his first ISL goal as well.
10) East Bengal Left To Rue Missed Chances
Robbie Fowler’s men should have won this game. They were the better team (relatively) and had three big chances to finish the game off. They spurned all of them. East Bengal took the lead through a Bakary Koné own goal and to their credit did not sit on that advantage. Journeyman, Mohammed Rafique, was always making runs in behind the Kerala defence and caused problems. Jacques Maghoma did the same on the other flank as well but when he missed a sitter after yet another counter in the 87th minute, the jitters started to spread. Lo and behold, Kerala scored and the Red-And-Gold Brigade missed their chance to move above their opponent in the table.
Image Credit – Official Indian Super League Twitter Page