Kerala Blasters FC head coach Ivan Vukomanovic was delighted with his team's result and the manner in which his side won the game as they beat Jamshedpur FC 3-1 in Matchweek 13 of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2022-23 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, in Kochi, on Tuesday.

Apostolos Giannou gave Kerala Blasters FC an early lead but Jamshedpur FC pulled one back through Daniel Chima Chukwu. However, Dimitrios Diamantakos scored with a composed penalty soon to restore KBFC’s lead going into half-time. Adrian Luna added to their tally after a sublime team goal as the Blasters held on to the win to extend their unbeaten run to eight games.

This is the club’s longest ever unbeaten run in Hero ISL and their eighth win of the season, and this victory sees the Blasters leapfrog ATK Mohun Bagan to the third spot in the Hero ISL standings.

Speaking at the post-match press conference, Vukomanovic reiterated the importance of winning points at this juncture of the season and he termed his side’s eight-match unbeaten run as ‘something special’.

“We are in the most important part of the season. The whole of December and the first half of January are crucial for the Hero ISL. If as a team if you are able to stay in a positive line and collect the points, try to stay unbeatable, then you are on the right path. After a few changes (to the squad) to the season, with new faces, we started rebuilding a new team with new players. So far we are happy with the progress, we are happy with the players and how they fit into the team with youngsters coming into the team. It’s a kind of process that you have to respect,” Vukomanovic said.

“Of course, when you sit again in a positive flow and positive momentum of eight games in a row without a defeat, for Kerala Blasters FC, it is something special. Seeing our past..not only last season, but the previous season where as a club, we were struggling a lot to reach higher levels. And now, for the second season in a row, we are among the best and we want to stay here. As a coach, I was delighted to see the boys enjoying this game playing nice quality football, with combinations. It was a pleasure. I’m happy with the victory and we hope to continue in a good way,” he added.

Jamshedpur FC fielded an unchanged starting eleven from their 2-2 draw against FC Goa, with a three-man defence. Vukomanovic highlighted how his team exploited the spaces on the wide areas in the first half which resulted in their two goals in the opening half

“In the first half we knew that Jamshedpur FC would play with a different formation. That was the formation they played against FC Goa in their previous game at home and they did well. With that confidence that they had throughout the game, even though they conceded the late goal in that draw, they were good. And we expected them to start the game in the same manner,” he said.

“We wanted to be more organised and focused on keeping the (defensive) line compact. And from that position, try to use those empty spaces on the side, because when you play with that formation, there is space that you can create very often in situations like two against one on the side. The boys did really well in the first half. We created many chances and situations in the box of our opponents which resulted in two goals. There were many other situations where we could have scored. Apo (Apostolos Giannou) also had one header that was saved by Eli Sabia on the line,” he added.

Luna gave Kerala Blasters FC a two-goal cushion in the second half, but there was end-to-end action with both sides putting the pressure on one another. Vukomanovic felt his team struggled to an extent after Jamshedpur FC changed their system and that the game was open after that point.

“In the second half it was a little bit of struggle because they changed the system and then it was an open fight. We knew we had to deal with the long balls. We knew we had to deal with the duels and second balls and again, the boys were good. We knew that we were in a difficult moment. As a team we don’t want to be casual and we want to continue in the same way. We are delighted with the three points because now we are third in the Hero ISL standings. We have more points than last season in this period. With a positive flow of eight games in a row without defeat, we hope to continue the same way,” he concluded.