MW12 takeaways: NorthEast United FC's first win, Kerala Blasters FC's title tilt, and more
Kerala Blasters FC’s late win over Odisha FC was the perfect way to cap off a dramatic Matchweek in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) that saw some seismic results in the race for the League Shield and the playoffs.
Matchweek 12 started with Jamshedpur FC being denied a rare win in the dying stages of the match by FC Goa at the Furnace which was followed by Hyderabad FC’s clinical win over Bengaluru FC at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium.
Mumbai City FC were tested by a gritty Chennaiyin FC side, but they continued their fine form to retain their place at the top end of the table.
NorthEast United FC then picked up their first points of the campaign as they upset ATK Mohun Bagan, allowing the Blasters to leapfrog the Mariners into third place with a win over Odisha FC in Kochi. A total of 12 goals were scored across the five matches with four of our five teams winning their respective fixtures.
Here are key takeaways from Matchweek 12:
Agony for Jamshedpur FC
Jamshedpur FC, a team with just one win in the entire season, showed renewed vigour as they took on FC Goa side who are firmly in the race for the playoffs but it was Aidy Boothroyd’s men who looked like the team that were chasing the teams at the top end of the table as they dominated the first half and twice took the lead in the match.
But defensive lapses and FC Goa’s tendency to strike late in games meant they had to surrender two points late on as their faint hopes of making the playoffs faded even further.
Jamshedpur FC though can take heart from the performance but it is high time they deliver on a consistent basis and convert these displays into points.
Bartholomew Ogbeche is back
Hyderabad FC are flying this season as well but a lack of goals has been a bit of a concern for Manolo Marquez’s men. A big part of their relative struggles upfront was the poor form of striker Bartholomew Ogbeche.
But against Bengaluru FC, Hyderabad FC seemed to roll back the days and deliver a performance they became famous for last season. Ogbeche who won the Golden Boot last season led from the front with a brace.
His return to form couldn’t have come at a better time for Hyderabad FC who look to chase Mumbai City FC at the top. As for Bengaluru FC, the challenges keep on mounting with another defeat.
Chhangte shines as Mumbai City FC win like champions
The moment would have been as sweet as his strike to draw Mumbai City FC back in the match for Lalianzuala Chhangte as he scored against his former club to trigger a Mumbai City FC comeback that saw them claim all three points despite falling behind in the match to a Petar Sliskovic goal.
Chhangte is now the leading Indian goalscorer in the Hero ISL this season and has been a player in fine form since his switch from Chennaiyin FC.
The visitors, though, made it tough for the Islanders who were far from their best on the evening, but still found a way to win the match which is a mark of a champion team.
NorthEast United FC get off the mark
The biggest upset of the Hero ISL season so far came in Guwahati where NorthEast United FC, who were winless and pointless in their first ten matches, stunned title-chasing ATK Mohun Bagan.
In a display of great organisation and grit, the Highlanders resisted pressure from the visitors and made the most of their chance as Wilmar Jordan Gil’s header gave them a 1-0 win over the Mariners that gave his team their first points of the season. The playoff spot may be out of reach for the Highlanders but they can hope for a strong end to the season after this morale-boosting win.
Meanwhile, A third defeat of the season has put ATK Mohun Bagan’s bid to win the League Shield in tatters as they continue to battle injuries and inconsistency.
Are Kerala Blasters FC title contenders?
Kerala Blasters FC left it late to secure all three points against Odisha FC in a match that assistant head coach Ishfaq Ahmed had described as the most important one of their season. It was for good reason as it lifted them to third place in the table and just five points behind leaders Mumbai City FC.
Ivan Vukomanovic’s side are now unbeaten in seven matches and have won six out of those games. The new-found defensive solidity that has seen them keep three clean sheets in those games and concede only four goals has catapulted them into the race for the League Shield along with Mumbai City FC and Hyderabad FC.
Winning championships is all about peaking at the right time and Kerala Blasters FC’s title charge is exactly a case of that.