ISL 2017-18: From Corominas' sensational hat-trick to ATK's dismal run, talking points from week 4
As the action shifts to the fifth week of the tournament, let's take a look at some of the talking points from week 4 of ISL.
On broader terms, the week four of the Indian Super League (ISL) followed the usual pattern. FC Goa, yet again, scored flurry of goals thanks to Ferran Corominas' second hat-trick in a row. Defending champions ATK and last year's finalists Kerala Blasters struggled in their respective matches and are still looking for their first win of the season. Miku was once again on the scoreline for Bengaluru FC while Delhi Dynamos suffered their third consecutive defeat.
Steve Coppell's Jamshedpur FC were off the mark last Wednesday with victory over the Delhi side after Izu Azuka scored the club's first ever goal but were beaten on Sunday by Ranko Popopiv's FC Pune City. The similar inconsistency was seen in Chennayin FC's results where on Thursday, they edged past ATK 3-2 only to lose their Sunday game 0-1 to Mumbai City FC.
Having played four matches, Bengaluru sit on top of the table on goal difference followed by Sergio Lobera's Goa. Both the clubs are on nine points after each winning three matches and losing just one. Chennayin FC and FC Pune City are also on nine points, but they both played five games each, winning three and losing two. At the bottom, Teddy Sheringham's ATK have just two points after four matches while the Dynmos and the Blasters are on three points after going through a disappointing week.
As the action shifts to the fifth week of the tournament, let's look at some of the talking points from week 4 of ISL:
Corominas, the finisher
Manager Lobera should be given the credit for having a vision for his team and identifying the right kind of players who would help him achieve those goals. By bringing the likes of Corominas and Manuel Lanzarote into the team, he ensured that the attacking department was strong. Corominas, who formerly played for La Liga team Espanyol, might be the best player in this season. His goal-scoring reputation went up by a level after he scored a terrific hat-trick against the Blasters.
Going into the half-time, the match was evenly poised at 2-2. Rene Meulensteen's Kerala side, for the first time in the tournament, scored two goals in a match. They didn't win a game yet so it was expected that they would go all out in the second half. Only that FC Goa and particularly Corominas had other plans. In the space of nine minutes, the Spanish striker scored three goals, his second hat-trick in a week. The two great thing about Corominas are apart from knowing how to exploit the space between two defenders, his finishing abilities are also top class. Maybe that's because he played at the top level for a long time.
FC Goa might have to tighten their defence as the season progresses, but with the kind of form Corominas is showing, it looks extremely tough to stop them. So far, they are on the right track and if they continue their run, then soon they will become favourites to clinch the title.
Bengaluru FC back to winning ways
Bengaluru FC, arguably the best-run football club in the country, have set bar so high that even the occasional failings takes one by surprise. In week three against Goa, Bengaluru, uncharacteristically, played a bad game where the defence of the team was all over the place. Last week against NorthEast United, Albert Roca ensured his team rectified those mistakes and they put out a strong defensive display to win the match.
Miku's goal, which came as a result of NorthEast United goalkeeper Rehenesh TP's fault, was enough to get Bengaluru back to winning ways. More than the victory, Bengaluru can take pride in the way they defended. After falling behind, NorthEast dominated their opponents and subjected their defence to a barrage of attacks in the second half. But that was not enough to break Bengaluru's well-organised defence and Sunil Chhetri's side clinched a morale-boosting win.
Bruised and battered, ATK still in search of first win
ATK's start to the season has been so bad that it begs the question whether the appointment of Teddy Sheringham as manager and Ashley Westwood as technical director were the right choices for the club. They have played four matches but never for once ended up being winners.
To be fair to them, ATK suffered a lot because of injuries to some of the key players. Defenders Anwar Ali and Nallapan Mohanraj are yet to recover from injuries while midfield mainstay Eugeneson Lyngdoh will be out for a while due to a knee injury. It's difficult to win matches when the best is not available for a team, but against Chennaiyin FC last Thursday, ATK committed silly errors that proved to be costly for them at the end.
Out of the three goals they conceded against the Chennai side, goalkeeper Debjit Majumder was twice at fault. First when he didn't do enough to clear a corner that resulted in Jeje opening the scoring for Chennaiyin and second one was in the dying minutes of game when Majumder's spilled the ball for Jeje to score the winner.
After the introduction of the high profile Robbie Keane into the match, ATK looked positive going forward. It was from Keane's through ball that Njazi Kuqi scored the team's second goal to make it 2-2. It was looking as if ATK might pull off something special but Chennaiyin's third goal settled the match for good.
Delhi Dynamos' season continues to dip
Delhi Dynamos have been having a torrid time in the season so far and it looks like that will continue for a longer period. Miguel Angel Portugal's team are constantly failing to find inspiration during their matches and now they will have to play quite a few matches without their goalkeeper Albino Gomes. The former Aizawl FC man suffered a knee injury in the match against Jameshedpur FC to make matters worse for the Dynamos who lost game 0-1.
This was their third straight defeat in the league and it came against a side who failed to score in their previous three games. Izu Azuka's goal gave Jamshedpur FC their first victory in the Indian Super League, the manner of which would have pleased coach Steve Coppell. Jamshedpur played the Steve Coppell way. Defensively, they were solid, hardly giving their opponents any chance while maintaining constant attack from the wings. Once Delhi were down by a goal, it became a difficult task for them to score as Jamshedpur turned all their focus on defending.
Delhi are in desperate need of a win but it's not quite clear how they will turn their fortunes around. With the kind of form they are showing, the team is definitely going to take a massive beating when they face FC Goa in their next match.
Inconsistency, the common denominator
For all the hard work Jamshedpur did to gain the winning momentum, it was all gone in their next match against FC Pune City. The Steve Coppell-coached side, who didn't concede a goal in their previous four matches, lost the game after they failed to score after Adil Khan's strike. When Jamshedpur defeated Delhi earlier, it looked like they will get going in the league. But they faltered in the very next game.
Chennaiyin FC also showed similar inconsistency in their two games last week. They put a strong display of attacking football against ATK, but then lost to Mumbai City FC 0-1 on Sunday. In fact, this was their first loss after three straight wins. NorthEast United too fumbled against Bengaluru after impressing in their game again Delhi.
It's still early days in the season but clubs should strive towards achieving consistency. It's strange to witness clubs playing very well in one game only to lose the next one. Managers have to figure out a way not to let go the momentum because as the league will reach its final stage, such defeats will it make it tougher for clubs to finish in the top four.
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