Kerala Blasters FC head coach Ivan Vukomanovic was thrilled with his players' performance as they secured a thrilling victory against East Bengal FC in the Indian Super League (ISL) at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata on Saturday.

Daisuke Sakai opened the scoring for Kerala Blasters FC in the first half, and Dimitri Diamantakos doubled their lead late in the game. Cleiton Silva managed to reduce the deficit for East Bengal FC with an injury-time penalty, which was the last action of the match.

Despite East Bengal FC enjoying the majority of possession and creating several promising chances, particularly in the second half, they struggled to break down the Blasters' defence. Before Diamantakos' goal, they had an opportunity to equalise, but Cleiton Silva's penalty was saved by goalkeeper Sachin Suresh. Reflecting on the game, Vukomanovic expressed his satisfaction with his team's ability to reduce the space between the lines and maintain a compact shape.

“We wanted to reduce (the space between the lines), we wanted to change our approach a little bit. But in some parts of the game, I was happy that we were pressing high as well. Recognizing when we have to sit back and wait. And then I think with the lack of space between the lines, they couldn’t find the openings and create something serious. Even they had a couple of good situations in front of the goal where they could score," he said in the post-match press conference.

“But if in those moments, you have that luck, speaking of penalties as well, saving two penalties in the same moment... When all these things and small pieces come together, then you get a mental boost to continue. Physically we were okay. We could run, press and we could defend. I’m happy that the boys could recognize tactical situations, how to close down the space and not allow the dangerous players to create something. As a coach, it makes you happy. I’m really happy to see the boys perform that way,” he further explained.

With their fourth win in six games, Kerala Blasters FC claimed the top spot in the ISL standings. Despite missing key players due to injuries and suspensions during these six games, they have suffered only one defeat, which came against Mumbai City FC. Vukomanovic took pride in the way new players stepped up and encouraged his team to remain grounded and dedicated.

“Three games in a row, playing without foreign players in defence, we conceded goals, but we managed to score more goals than our opponents to win the games. It makes you feel proud. When you see those (young) boys, you don’t expect (much of) them, but yet they are hungry, yet they want to prove themselves. As a coach, before this large break of three weeks, it gives you a good feeling to continue. I think it never happened in the history of our club that after six games, we’re sitting on top of the table. So for everybody it's a good feeling. Whoever follows or supports Kerala Blasters FC from our side, it’s a great achievement. Everybody should be proud. It’s nothing but more motivation to continue and become better,” he explained.

“We have to stay humble. We are nowhere. Maybe after six games, we are on top of the table, but I prefer that we are at the end. There are 16 more big games to go. 16 more big steps, so nothing's over. We have to stay calm, work hard, shut up and stay humble because we know who we are,” he concluded.