Week 13 of the Indian Super League (ISL) concluded on Sunday with not many significant changes from last week. The top four teams remained stationary while the fight for the three remaining semi-final spots is still alive. The week started out with already bruised Delhi Dynamos inflicting more misery on Avram Grant's NorthEast United FC. Delhi picked up their third win of the season thanks to Kalu Uche’s late header. FC Goa, once again, had a winless week as they stumbled against Chennaiyin FC, who bolstered their chances of qualifying for the semis with a 1-0 victory.
Talking about streaks, Bengaluru went through another undefeated week as they drew their match against second-placed FC Pune City. The match ended with a 1-1 scoreline resulting in Bengaluru's first draw of the season. NorthEast United suffered again in their second match of the week after Kerala Blasters' Wes Brown scored the only goal of the game. Jamshedpur FC's Wellington Priori scored a stunner for the second time in as many matches but Mohammed Rafi’s header deep into the second-half handed a point to Chennaiyin FC.
In the last match of the week, Mumbai FC clinched a 2-1 victory against defending champions ATK to keep their semis hopes alive.
Let's take a look at some of the talking points from Week 13 of the ISL:
Battle to avoid last place
Things never go as per plan for NorthEast United and Delhi Dynamos. Their season never took off as both teams failed to put consistent performances throughout the campaign. Both sides have won only three games and drew two but NorthEast have been far worse considering they have played two matches more than Delhi. When both teams met last week on Wednesday, it showed why they have been languishing in the bottom. Though there were some swift movement in midfield by both teams, it didn't make any impact. As the match progressed, NorthEast became more dominant. However, in the 67th minute, the Dynamos scored from their only shot on target in the game through substitute Uche. David Ngaithe's cross from the right flank found Uche, who made no mistake in slotting the ball in.
The win took Delhi to 11 points, same as NorthEast but they are still in last place due to goal difference. Things could change for them as they have two games in hand. Miguel Angel Portugal's side will look to build on the victory and try to maintain the winning momentum when they take on struggling FC Goa in their next match.
Wellington Priori adds another stunner to his name
Priori is making quite a reputation for himself in the ISL. First, he scored an overhead kick to hand his team all three points against NorthEast last week. Now, his stunning volley almost pulled off another victory before Mohammed Rafi scored a header to end the match 1-1. Priori's goal was also the 200th goal of this season. Two minutes before the half-hour mark, Chennaiyin's Inigo Calderon headed away a free-kick but the ball fell for Priori, who smashed a volley from just outside the box which found the back of the net giving goalkeeper Karanjit Singh absolutely no chance.
It looked like Priori's strike was enough to get all three points, but just two minutes from time, Rafi equalised from a corner. A win could have made things much easier for Jamshedpur, but one point from an away match is not a bad result at all. Jamshedpur's manager Steve Coppell recognised Priori's influence in the team and praised him for maintaining his form. "Wellington (Priori) has been brilliant for us ever since coming in. You need substance and quality in your international players. He has brought that in. Long may his form continue and we need him," Coppell said.
It's also not a bad result for Chennaiyin considering they managed to pick up four points from two matches they played in the week. After 16 matches, they are just a point behind FC Pune at 28 and are two points ahead of fourth-placed Jamshedpur. One more win would be enough for them to make it to the semis.
FC Goa's winless run
It's a pity that Sergio Lobera's side, who started the season with a bang, are now struggling to get into the top four. So dramatic has been their downfall that they managed just one point from their last four matches. In matches where Goa players scored, their defence didn't meet the standards. When their defence looked solid, it's their attack which failed. Such inconsistencies have proved to be costly for them as they now find themselves six points behind the fourth-placed Jamshedpur.
In the game against Chennaiyin, thing were going fine for FC Goa till they fell behind in the second half after an own goal from Narayan Das. For all the attacking prowess Goa possessed in the early stages of the league, they couldn't find the equaliser and suffered another setback at their home.
It did made sense when coach Lobera blamed the absence of luck in their defeat to Chennaiyin. He also critical of Manuel Lanzarote, who picked up his fourth yellow card of the season in the 81st minute of the game, which means he will miss the team's next match.
‘’A player (Manuel Lanzarote) who had gotten three yellow cards, shouldn't have got himself booked for talking to the referee. It was a big error on the player's part. We shouldn't be losing players for stupid reasons like this. Obviously now we need to make changes after the training to pick the 11 who can give us the best performance against Delhi (Dynamos),’’ Lobera said.
One positive thing for Goa is that they still have two games in hand so there's still hope of making it to semis. But out of those four, they have to play two matches against the likes of Pune and Jamshedpur, so it's not going to be an easy task. Every match is a must-win situation for them.
Kerala Blasters, Mumbai City FC still in hunt
Both Kerala and Mumbai desperately needed wins to stay alive in the tournament. For Blasters, their top defender Brown delivered when they needed it the most. Jackichand Singh's perfectly executed corner found Brown in an unmarked position. He made no mistake in heading the ball in. That one goal was enough for Kerala as they sit on fifth place with 24 points to their name.
On the other hand, Mumbai City came good against under-performing ATK at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata thanks to goals from Marcio Rozario and Rafa Jorda. ATK equalised with the help of Bipin Singh after Rozario's free-kick resulted in first goal of the match. However, the scoreline didn't last for long as Sanju Pradhan's beautiful pass from the left found Jorda, who guided the ball to the bottom right corner of the net with his head. The win gives a slim chance to Mumbai to qualify for the semi-final but they need to get all nine points from the remaining three games and also hope for other match results to go in their favour.
Updated Date: Feb 20, 2018 13:51 PM