Kerala Blasters FC progressed to the top of the points table victory against Hyderabad FC while East Bengal FC were held to a draw by 10-player Chennaiyin FC on Sunday as the Indian Super League resumed after the international break.
At the Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium in Chennai, Chennaiyin secured a come from behind draw through a goal in the 86th minute by substitute Ninthoinganba Meetei.
Owen Coyle and his men were dealt with an early blow as Ayush Adhikari found the back of his own net to give East Bengal the lead in the 29th minute.
However, the home side rode on the crowd support to constantly knock the opposition’s door, as Rafael Crivellaro’s sharp creative vision blended brilliantly with Ninthoinganba’s accuracy in front of goal to ensure that they didn’t succumb to a second straight defeat at home.
Some newfound flair and fluency in East Bengal and their attacking moves have been prevalent since Carles Cuadrat took over the reins in the summer. He has helped them deliver encouraging results off late and a lot of it is down to the confidence brimming through their domestic contingent.
An excellent example of the same was evident on the field today, as Vishnu Puthiya Valappill made the most of a starting spot by moving ahead with pace and precision just a minute before the half-hour mark of the game. Vishnu sent in a low cross inside the box and Adhikari was unable to clear his lines properly, as he ended up slotting it past Debjit Majumder.
Coyle and his Chennaiyin outfit ensured control over the proceedings thereafter, recording greater possession (56%) and more shots on target (5 vs 2) than the visitors.
With two goals and assists each, Crivellaro has made an impact many times for Chennaiyin this season. He was again at the centre of it all with an accurate pass to Ninthoinganba on the right side of the 18-yard box in the 86th minute. The 22-year-old showed no qualms in putting the ball past Prabsukhan Singh Gill and salvaged a point for his side from this match.
Kerala Blasters moved to the top of the ISL points table after beating Hyderabad FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi.
Kerala Blasters FC head coach Ivan Vukomanovic recently stated that the Tuskers have an obligation towards their home fans to give their 100% and more every time they step onto the field in Kochi. It’s safe to say that the players lived up to those expectations in this faceoff against Hyderabad FC, with a goal in the 41st minute by Miloš Drinčić helping them bag all points possible from their first fixture after the international break.
The resounding support that Kerala Blasters receive in Kochi was visible and how, when Drinčić tapped in an assist by Adrian Luna four minutes before the halftime break. The home side had won a corner, and they overloaded players upfront to find a breakthrough past the Hyderabad FC backline. Luna received a through ball inside the 18-yard box and he was quick to spot an onrushing Drinčić. The 24-year-old Montenegrin defender put the ball into the back of the net and helped Kerala Blasters head into the halftime high on confidence.
Hyderabad FC are dealing with challenges in their frontline this season, having scored only four times in seven matches this season now. Their major concerns come across in finishing off moves, as they went toe to toe in giving Kerala Blasters a run for their money even after trailing in the proceedings.
Jonathan Moya had a fantastic opportunity to get them ahead in the game even before Drinčić’s strike. At the tip of the attacking unit, Moya was responsible for efficiently optimising the opportunities that Hyderabad created. However, his headed effort failed to even test Sachin Suresh.
Unfortunately for them, no concrete chances came their way afterwards, with Kerala Blasters nearing doubling the lead. Drinčić had an opening to bag a brace after his strike, but that effort did not materialise. However, Vukomanovic will be pleased with the effort that Luna put in as well. Arguably the most impactful individual in the league thus far, the Uruguayan again notched a decisive assist as his team continues to rally behind the relentless efforts he keeps putting in one game after another.