From goalscoring thrillers, valiant comebacks and hard-fought draws - round one of the Hero Super Cup 2023 had it all with Hero Indian Super League (ISL) and Hero I-League teams giving their all.

A staggering 34 goals were scored across eight games, with only two games ending a draw. Six Hero ISL sides began their campaigns with a win that included Kerala Blasters FC, Hyderabad FC, ATK Mohun Bagan, Jamshedpur FC, Mumbai City FC, and Chennaiyin FC.

Hero ISL 2022-23 semi-finalists Bengaluru FC were held to a draw by Sreenidi Deccan FC while FC Goa and NorthEast United FC suffered defeats in their opening games.

With round one of the Hero Super Cup 2023 coming to an end, here’s a look at the key takeaways:

Kerala Blasters FC grind it out against RoundGlass Punjab FC

Playing at home in the presence of their passionate supporters, Kerala Blasters FC got their Hero Super Cup 2023 off to a winning start, with a 3-1 victory against RoundGlass Punjab FC. However, the game was much tighter than what the scoreline suggests.

The Blasters created a host of chances but were unable to convert before they opened the scoring through a Dimitrios Diamantakos penalty before Nishu Kumar added another one in the second half.

That didn’t stop defending Hero I-League champions RoundGlass Punjab FC from knocking on the door with Juan Mera being at the heart of all their moves. The Spaniard’s deflected cross led to Krishnanandan Singh’s goal. The attacking midfielder saw another attempt from outside the box rattle the crossbar not long before Rahul KP put the bed after a deadly solo run.

ATK Mohun Bagan mean business

The Hero ISL 2022-23 champions began their Hero Super Cup campaign with a thumping 5-1 win against Gokulam Kerala FC in their opening game of the tournament. It was a one-side victory with the Mariners dominating from start to finish.

Liston Colaco’s brace inside 30 minutes opened the floodgates before Hugo Boumous, Manvir Singh, and Kiyan Nassiri got their names of the scoresheet. While Gokulam Kerala FC pulled one back through Sergio Mendigutxia, it was nothing more than a consolation goal. Despite not registering a clean sheet, ATK Mohun Bagan’s defence looked sound at the back, stifling the opposition and laying the foundation for another crucial win.

Jamshedpur FC’s scintillating comeback

In what was by far the most enticing game from round one of the Hero Super Cup 2023, Jamshedpur FC got the better of FC Goa in an eight-goal thriller. However, despite conceding first after Noah Sadaoui’s early opener, it was the Red Miners who ended up on the winning side.

Rafael Crivellaro was the orchestrator of Jamshedpur FC’s comeback scoring a goal and setting up another before Fares Arnaout’s own goal saw the Men of Steel lead 3-1 at the break. The Brazilian netted another one before the Gaurs hit back with goals from Sadaoui and Iker Guarrotxena to make it 3-4. However, it was not meant to be for FC Goa as a late goal from Harry Sawyer further deflated their hopes.

Jamshedpur FC would be displeased with the way they let FC Goa back in the game, but will have to be wary of not repeating the same mistakes against ATK Mohun Bagan, who they face next.

Mumbai City FC's fightback pays off

Just nine minutes into the game against Churchill Brothers FC, Mumbai City FC found themselves a goal down after Ansumana Kromah took advantage of a costly error. However, the Islanders produced another scintillating comeback, like they have done so on multiple occasions during the League Sheild-winning campaign, picking up a 2-1 win in the end.

Rowllin Borges set up Mehtab Singh from a free-kick, with a latter burying his header into the far corner. That goal got the momentum back for the Islanders, who would go on to control possession and peg the opposition on the back foot. Mumbai City FC’s resilience finally paid off in injury time when Vikram Partap Singh was brought down in the box. Lallianzuala Chhangte made no mistake from the spot to ensure a positive start to the campaign for Mumbai City FC’s all-Indian squad.

Rahim Ali staking a claim in Chennaiyin FC’s starting eleven

Chennaiyin FC rode on Rahim Ali’s brace as they edged NorthEast United FC 4-2 in the Hero Super Cup 2023 opener. The youngster made the most of his chance, bagging a brace with two well-taken headers in each half.

Rahim Ali clocked 787 minutes across 15 games during the Hero ISL 2022-23 season after his campaign that was hampered by injuries. The youngster struggled to make his way his back into Chennaiyin FC’s playing eleven, with Petar Sliskovic leading the frontline and firing upfront.

Sliskovic’s injury in the ongoing Hero Super Cup has presented a chance for Ali to make his way back into the team and the 22-year-old has looked hungry for goals.

“Rahim is the guy who I feel has improved pretty well. We are pursuing our targets with him,” stated Chennaiyin FC head coach Thomas Brdaric in the post-match press conference.