June 19, 2024
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Match week 18 of the Indian Super League (ISL) had five entertaining games, with several twists and turns, especially for teams fighting for the playoff spots.

The week started with Chennaiyin FC playing out a 2-2 draw against Odisha FC at the Marina Arena. On Friday, East Bengal secured an unlikely victory over Kerala Blasters, with Cleiton Silva’s goal ending their dismal run of form.

Meanwhile, the doubleheader on Saturday began with a much-awaited, blockbuster game between Mumbai City FC and Hyderabad FC. Amid a few debatable officiating errors, we witnessed a quality encounter throughout the game. The tightly contested match ended in a 1-1 stalemate.

While the top two battled hard, the second game saw Jamshedpur FC defeat NorthEast United 2-0 in a bottom-of-the-table clash. Meanwhile, Bengaluru FC continued their fine form as they defeated ATK Mohun Bagan by two goals to one on Sunday.

On that note, here are three hits and flops from game week 18 of the ISL 2022-23 season.


Hits

#1 Bengaluru FC’s late surge continues

Simon Grayson appears to have finally struck a chord with Bengaluru FC. Following their victory over ATK Mohun Bagan, the Blues have now won their last five games and are making a late surge into the playoff berth.

The 3-4-1-2 formation has suited the players at the club and combined with Roy Krishna and Sivashakthi’s form upfront, Bengaluru FC seem unstoppable at the moment.

While the front two have gathered headlines, the partnership between Rohit Kumar and Suresh Singh Wangjam in midfield has been an important aspect of their recent success, while the defense led by Sandesh Jhingan continues to improve. With their most recent victory, they are now placed sixth in the standings with 25 points to their name.


#2 East Bengal finally secure three points

Having lost their previous four encounters, East Bengal arrived at the game against Kerala Blasters with a point to prove. Their playoff hopes are arguably all but over, but Stephen Constantine needed his side to rise to the occasion and fight for all three points.

They certainly showed exactly that as they defeated the Blasters with a goal to nil. New signing Jake Jervis added dynamism to the frontline, while Cleiton Silva worked his magic alongside him.

Additionally, their midfield and defensive line were excellent as they restricted their opponents. There are promising signs for the Red and Gold Brigade despite not being in the battle for the playoffs.


#3 Jamshedpur FC are showing signs of improvement

Jamshedpur FC are second from bottom, but have taken steps to improve their performances over the last month. The Red Miners secured a comfortable 2-0 victory against fellow strugglers NorthEast United, but more importantly, Aidy Boothroyd’s side played with a freedom and flair that we haven’t seen from them this season.

Rafael Crivellaro, Ritwik Das, and Daniel Chima Chukwu are starting to build a partnership and these are unquestionably good signs for next season. The ISL Shield holders will look to finish their season on a high and aim to cause a few upsets along the way.


Flops

#1 Poor officiating grabs the headlines

“You don’t notice the referee during the game unless he makes a bad call,” is a famous saying in football folklore, and it was evident during this week’s Indian Super League games.

The game between Chennaiyin FC and Odisha FC had huge ramifications, but the referee awarded two erroneous offside calls to the Juggernauts. Following this, Marina Machans were denied a clear penalty in the second half, which enraged both the players and the fans.

The controversy did not stop, as Mumbai City FC’s Sanjeev Stalin was only awarded a yellow card despite holding back Hyderabad FC’s Rohit Danu when he was through on goal. The referee initially awarded the red card but changed his decision upon consulting his assistant.

Such mistakes in a game of huge stakes did not go down well, as fans were quick to point out the poor decisions from the referees.


#2 Kerala Blasters struggle to find answers

Kerala Blasters have played some breathtaking football in Kochi, but have struggled to repeat their form on their travels. They have lost their last three away games, conceding eight goals and scoring just once.

Things are not going according to plan for Ivan Vukomanovic, who tweaked his tactics against East Bengal. Left-back Jessel Carneiro played as an inverted full-back, but the Red and Gold Brigade were compact and had the desire, which ultimately secured them the three points.

They are currently placed third in the table, but only five points separate them and seventh-placed Odisha FC. With tough fixtures to come, the Blasters need to find the right combination to secure a playoff berth.


#3 ATK Mohun Bagan fail to deliver once again

After a hard-fought victory against Odisha FC, ATK Mohun Bagan succumbed to a defeat against Bengaluru FC. While the game was certainly a tight contest, the Blues were simply clinical in front of the goal.

The over-reliance on Dimitri Petratos has taken a toll in recent weeks. The likes of Manvir Singh and Liston Colaco have failed to find the net, while Federcio Gallego is yet to fully settle into the side. Juan Ferrando has a quality squad at his disposal, but his attacking players are not on the same wavelength.

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