Mohun Bagan Super Giant continued their incredible run of form with a 4-3 victory against Kerala Blasters FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi in the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 tonight. The Yellow Army was dealt with only their second loss in their last 10 games at home as the Mariners jumped to 39 points, level with the first-placed Mumbai City FC.

Fresh from the Kolkata Derby where they netted thrice in the first half, the Antonio Lopez Habas-coached side picked off and carried on that momentum, drawing the first strike in the fourth minute with a solo effort by Albanian striker Armando Sadiku. The visitors broke out in a quick counter attack, and central defender Anwar Ali was proactive to direct a fairly long pass to Sadiku. The striker then fended off a challenge from former Mohun Bagan Super Giant defender Pritam Kotal to get past the home team backline and strike the ball sweetly into the back of the net. At three minutes and 36 seconds, this was the fastest goal that the Mariners have ever scored against Kerala Blasters FC, and it was their fifth-quickest overall in the competition’s history.

The game stayed as it is for the following 50 minutes, with neither sides creating clear cut chances that could cause complications to the opposition. Interestingly, what followed was a frenetic second half, seeing a total of six goals across the final 40-odd minutes. The foundation of the same was laid by Kerala Blasters FC midfielder Vibin Mohanan, who coupled with Rahul KP to engage in a swift exchange of passes unlocking the Mohun Bagan Super Giant defence. Finally, Rahul’s simple pass was converted into a goal by equal simplicity by Vibin, and that really compelled the Mariners to attack on full throttle, again.

Impressively, both teams had their talismanic forwards elevating their game as the game progressed. Dimitrios Diamantakos doubled his team’s tally in the 63rd minute, supported by his striking partner Fedor Cernych, who set up the delivery for the Greek marksman inside the box, which he slotted in with ease. That was, however, preceded with the Mariners regaining their lead courtesy of Sadiku in the 60th minute. Dimitrios Petratos launched in a powerful free-kick from near the halfway mark. It was directed to Manvir Singh inside a crowded box. Manvir showed good alertness to make a headed pass to Sadiku, who slotted the ball into the back of the net to bag his brace.

Petratos had gotten a grip over the game by then. His lethal set-piece deliveries sprung into action eight minutes later, when a corner kick to Deepak Tangri was headed in home by the midfielder to recover the one-goal lead. The match swung both ways, and the drama didn’t simmer down until the added time of the second half.

Striker Jason Cummings had come close to getting his name on the scoresheet a couple of times before, but his efforts finally fructified in the 97th minute of the match, drilling in an effort albeit a scrambled one to further extend the lead of the Mariners. However, in what is a testament to the indomitable attitude of the Blasters at home, Diamantakos joined hands with Emmanuel Justine to capitalise on a cross by the latter and pull a goal back two minutes later. Unfortunately, it was a bit too late for the home side to get any points out of the contest.

Key Performer of the Match

Armando Sadiku (Mohun Bagan Super Giant)

Sadiku was lethal from the spot, pouncing upon two formidable chances and making the most of them without breaking much sweat. He completed 16 out of his 22 passes, in addition to creating a goal-scoring opportunity and intercepting once each.

What’s next for both teams?

Kerala Blasters FC returns to action against Jamshedpur FC on March 30, whereas Mohun Bagan Super Giant will be squaring off against Chennaiyin FC on March 31.

Brief Scores

Mohun Bagan Super Giant 4 (Armando Sadiku 4’ 60’, Deepak Tangri 68’, Jason Cummings 90+7’) - 3 Kerala Blasters FC (Vibin Mohanan 54’, Dimitrios Diamantakos 63’ 90+9’)

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