From KBFC's remarkable win to MCFC's massive squad depth: Key takeaways from MW6

Matchweek six of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2022-23 season witnessed entertaining and exciting results, resulting in quite some changes in the standings. All five matches ended in victories, with three Hero ISL sides securing a win away from home.

Hyderabad FC continued their unbeaten start to the season with a gritty win against Jamshedpur FC at the JRD Tata Sports Complex in Jamshedpur. The defending Hero ISL champions are now four points clear at the top. Meanwhile, heavyweights ATK Mohun Bagan and Mumbai City FC also closed the gap on the table toppers with another win. 

Down south, East Bengal inflicited a third straight defeat on Bengaluru FC while Kerala Blasters FC recorded a clinical win against FC Goa, ending up on the winning side after a 10-game winless streak against the Gaurs.

With yet another matchweek coming to a close, here are the key takeaways from Matchweek 6:

Another win, another clean sheet for Hyderabad FC

Hyderabad FC scored the highest goals in the league stage (43) in Hero ISL 2021-22 as they romped to the Hero ISL title. However, this season, it has been their defence that has been making the difference. Their backline laid the foundation for yet another crucial win as HFC consolidated their place at the top of the table and extended their unbeaten run this season.

With a fifth straight clean sheet in just six games, HFC have now equalised FC Goa’s (2018-19) and Mumbai City FC’s (2014) record of five clean sheets in a row, which is the best-ever tally in a single Hero ISL season. Across six games, Manuel Marquez’s men have just conceded three goals, the least by any side. All three of their goals came in their opening game against Mumbai City FC as they secured a draw.

Liston finally gets off the mark

Last season’s top Indian scorer, Liston Colaco, surprisingly did not find himself on the scoresheet in his first four games of the season. Playing out wide on the left flank, Colaco has been playing a different role under ATK Mohun Bagan head coach Juan Ferrando this season, with striker Dimitri Petratos leading the attack.

The Goan was guilty of squandering quite a few chances in ATKMB’s opening four games, but Colaco put his goal drought to an end against NorthEast United FC, taking his chance and producing a fine finish. Colaco may have just scored his first goal of the season, but the forward is already making an impact. He leads the assist charts for Indian players, with three to his name. Ferrando said there is more to come from Colaco as the season progresses.

“Everyone knows the level at which Liston can perform,” the Spaniard said. “He is very close to reaching (the level) what is normal for him. He needs to improve on some details. But it’s about a process and I am not worried. Liston needs to work for himself and the team. If he improves on those details, it will be perfect.”

Another win on the road for East Bengal FC

East Bengal have just secured two wins from six games this season, but one thing that Stephen Constantine’s side has displayed is that they nick points even when on the road. In fact, both of their wins so far have come away from home this season - against NorthEast United FC and Bengaluru FC.

Against Bengaluru FC, the visitors were not only resolute at the back as they registered their first clean sheet of the campaign, but also took the game to Bengaluru FC on multiple occasions. Constantine’s side nullified the home team and in the end, came away with a stunning win. “I don’t think anybody in India expected us to come here and beat Bengaluru FC,” Constantine said.

With two victories already, EBFC have bettered their win tally from last season and away results like these will provide the Torch Bearers some much-needed confidence.

Mumbai City FC showcase strength in depth

Mumbai City thumped Chennaiyin FC away from home with a thrilling comeback win, firing six goals past the two-time champions after trailing by two goals at the 32nd-minute mark.

While it was business as usual for MCFC, half of those goals against Chennaiyin FC were scored by Vinit Rai, Vignesh Dakshinamurthy and Alberto Noguera - three players who came off the bench at half-time. It highlighted their strength in depth, proving that Islanders not only have a solid starting eleven, but also players who can make an impact when called upon.

“Those players have certainly come on in the second half, they have waited, been patient, and to have an impact that they did (in the game) shows the quality of them as people. (It) also shows how important they are going to be going forward in the rest of the season,” Buckingham stated in the post-match press conference, praising his substitutes.

Kerala Blasters bounce back at home

The spotlight was on Kerala Blasters after suffering two consecutive losses at home. But against FC Goa in Kochi, the Blasters rose to the occasion, securing a confident win and giving the fans something to cheer about.

Ivan Vukomanovic’s side piled the pressure on the opposition from the kick-off whistle and kept at it, even though they found it tough to carve out an opening initially. Their perseverance finally paid off, as they fired two back-to-back goals through Adrian Luna and Dimitrios Diamantakos late in the first half. Ivan Kaliuzhnyi’s second-half stunner further made it difficult for FC Goa to mount a comeback.

While KBFC have been guilty of letting pressure get the better of them at home, this win was once again a reminder of how the team can thrive when playing in front of their passionate fans.

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