On a double-header Saturday, Adrian Luna powered Kerala Blasters to a 2-1 win over East Bengal FC in Kolkata as Ryan Williams ensures Bengaluru FC share points with Hyderabad FC in a 1-1 draw in Hyderabad in the 2023-24 Indian Super League.
Kerala beat East Bengal 2-1
Kerala captain Luna was on hand again to steer his team to an away victory over East Bengal before the international beak.
The Uruguayan international was constantly testing the East Bengal backline. A chance emerged in the 32nd minute, as Luna opened up the East Bengal defence with a crafty pass for fellow teammate Daisuke Sakai.
The 26-year-old immediately rushed into the box, tricked Mohamad Rakip with quick footwork and shot the ball past Prabhsukhan Singh Gill to give his side the lead. Sakai thus became only the fourth Japanese player to score a goal in ISL history, after Cy Goddard, Katsumi Yusa, and Rei Tachikawa.
If Luna has been Kerala’s star in attack, young goalkeeper Sachin Suresh has come up as a surprise package at the back. His distribution has been commendable, recording a 57% passing success rate in six appearances so far.
Brazilian striker Cleiton Silva had a brilliant opportunity to draw scores level in the 85th minute, but Sachin dived to his right and saved the shot, becoming the first goalkeeper in ISL history to save penalties in consecutive matches.
East Bengal needed to regroup after the penalty save, and Kerala immediately capitalised as Sandeep Singh’s delivery to Dimitrios Diamantakos met little resistance with the effort eventually being converted into a goal in the 88th minute.
The Greek striker was shown his second yellow card soon afterwards though, thus getting sent off in the 89th minute. That one-man advantage led to the home side earning a spot-kick in the ninth minute of added time, and Silva did convert the penalty this time around to get on the board, but in vain.
Hyderabad draw 1-1 with Bengaluru
Hyderabad got ahead, thanks to Mohammed Yasir in the 35th minute. The 25-year-old has netted only six times across his six seasons in the league, but when he brought down a long pass by Oswaldo Alanís, he managed to strike it past Gurpreet Singh Sandhu for the lead.
Bengaluru responded by bringing Spanish midfielder Javi Hernandez onto the field who initiated the move that gave the edge over the Hyderabad defence. Hernandez pulled off a pass that met the onrushing Halicharan Narzary on the left flank. Narzary laid out an assist for Ryan Williams merely yards away from Gurmeet Singh in the 58th minute.
The Australian international finished off the move giving his team the equaliser. Bengaluru had some brilliant passages of play thereafter, with Suresh Singh Wangjam and Sunil Chhetri coming close to netting the winner. Both teams rounded off with four shots on target, and they converted once each to share spoils from the encounter in Hyderabad.