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ISL Match week 13 - Punjab's roar, Odisha's efficiency, and more

With 10 of the 12 teams in action, the table did seem some shake-ups. Some reclaims, some statements of intent, some resurgences and above all much enthralling football.

ISL Match week 13 - Punjabs roar, Odishas efficiency, and more

John Mathew

Updated: 6 Feb 2024 11:02 AM GMT

The return of 'Let's Football' after a short break. Following the end of (India's) Asian Cup campaign, play resumed in ISL after a month's break as MW12 kicked-off. With 10 of the 12 teams in action, the table did seem some shake-ups. Some reclaims, some statements of intent, some resurgences and above all much enthralling football.

With a Hyderabad side drenched in turmoil from top to bottom, (literally - they're at the bottom of the table win-less in 13 games and having the biggest goal-difference; in negative among all 12 sides) take on arguably one of the best sides in the league in the form of FC Goa; the result was always pre-expected.

Brandon Fernandes in action v Hyderabad FC (Image via @IndSuperLeague on X)

But Goa were not at their best, struggling to break through Hyderabad's almost all-Indian XI and having to resort to long shots often. Goa were restricted to their 2nd lowest xG accumulation in the season so far with just 0.79 xG accumulated over 20 shots, of which 11 were from outside the box. But when the quality difference is so sheer, there comes a breaking point in the resistance; and for Goa - it came through Carlos Martinez. Often criticized for his lack of goal-scoring, the Spaniard seems to have found his footing finally. 7 goals in his last 6 games across all competitions, he's 4th among goals scored per 90 in ISL, ahead of A. Sadiku, Pereyra Diaz and Cleiton Silva. Might not be the best striker nor finisher in the league on underlying stats, but his goal-scoring answers a lot of the questions thrown his way.

That win meant Goa went atop the table, but it'd be only for 24 hours as Kalinga saw yet another battle; this time between Kerala and Odisha.

The reverse fixture at Kochi was an exciting one. The return of Ivan Vukomanovic to the bench after his 10-match exile, that late Luna winner to snatch all 3 points for Odisha's clutch. This too was a return - the return of the beaten champions of Kalinga. East Bengal had won the Super Cup in Bhubaneshwar just days back and it was on Lobera to reply with a statement result.

But Kerala decided to be villains. Ivan's men managed to spoil the purple party for a good 45 minutes as Dimi Diamantakos slotted in a Nihal Sudheesh cross to get his 8th of the season. Kerala managed to nullify and irritate Odisha till half-time. But following the start of the second half, Kalinga roared.

Odisha starting and turning a game around in less than 45 minutes is nothing new this season. When JFC visited Kalinga, they led 1-0 at the 23'. At half-time, the score was 4-1. Against the most efficient finishing side in the league, you couldn't have any slip-ups at all. And just like that 12 minutes after second half began, Blasters trailed 2-1. Roy Krishna the man, the myth, the legend. The 36-year old Fijian slotted away 2 goals in 4 minutes taking his tally to 10 for this season and 50 in the league overall. He's on a roll, reminding all he's not finished; he is the finisher.

Roy Krishna celebrating after scoring v KBFC (Image via @OdishaFC on X)

And consequentially it was Odisha's turn to lead the table then. Next on show was Punjab's wrath on Bengaluru. The reverse game at Kanteerava had ended 3-3, even though Punjab scored some absurd goals, being leaky at the other end cost them. The Shers was not gonna let that happen again. Five shots inside the box, 3 goals among which was one of the best goals of the season — Madih Talal running through and chipping Gurpreet Singh Sandhu of all people. And with that, Punjab went above BFC in the table!

Madih Talal in action v Bengaluru FC (Image via @RGPunjabFC on X)

Drama was only getting started though, If Odisha v Kerala was the trailer, Mohun Bagan v East Bengal was the masterpiece. Rugged, rough, resilient, controversial — Boro match did not disappoint at all (at least for the neutrals).

It had all the spice of typical derby game. An early lead, an equalizer against the run of play, a penalty which made it 2-1 and late, controversial equalizer. It does not do that game justice, to pen it out in words. It was a visual spectacle that had to be witnessed. Although, to get an idea of how absurd the game was — 70% of MB's chances in the game came through 2 players. One is the much expected Dimi Petratos (4/10 chances) the other was 19 year old Amandeep (3/10) who came on in the 14th minute to replace Anwar Ali, for his debut in ISL. The lad also won the most duels in the game in the entire game! I mean talk about breaking into the scene!

Finally came Mumbai v Jamshedpur at the Mumbai Arena. Khalid Jamal's first game in ISL with Jamshedpur, that too at the away den of the the reigning champions. Similar to Goa V Hyderabad, a result was pre-expected here as well. The first half further strengthened that thought as the Islanders went up by 2 in a game that had never really settled down into either sides control. But the first half was pretty convincing for the average viewer, Mumbai scored 2 having made the better chances and restricting Jamshedpur without any. But football and Khalid had other plans.

Jeremy Manzorro in action v Mumbai City (Image via @IndSuperLeague on X)

The same Jamshedpur who did not have a shot in the first 45' had 10 in the second 45. Four of them ended on target and 3 were goals. Be it gifted through mistakes or earned through brilliance, Jamshedpur worked for it, worked hard and they reaped the reward. For the second time in ISL 23/24, JFC scored thrice in a game. If the last one was at the worst side in the league, this one was against the reigning champions. And suddenly, the play-off story just got more interesting.

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