ISL 2020-21: Ahmed Jahouh's error costs Mumbai City FC, tactical changes work for Hyderabad FC and other talking points
Here are some talking points from the past gameweek from the Indian Super League's ongoing season.
The business-end of the ongoing Indian Super League (ISL) 2020-21 is fast approaching, and the race for the playoffs is intensifying as every match passes by. Bengaluru FC are struggling to return to winning ways, while Hyderabad are flying high on the fourth spot, and Mumbai City FC remain on top, maintaining a six-point lead.
NorthEast United's win over ATK Mohun Bagan remained the lone victory over the last week in the ISL, with the remaining games during this period ending in draws.
Here, we take a look at some talking points from the past week:
Ahmed Jahouh disappoints once again
Mumbai City FC’s defensive midfielder Ahmed Jahouh was coming fresh off a one-game suspension, but his late error in his team’s match against Chennaiyin left coach Sergio Lobera frustrated and disappointed.
The controversial incident happened in the 76th minute when the Moroccan footballer tried to be overconfident and brought down Chennaiyin’s Jakub Sylvestr inside the box, resulting in a penalty for CFC. Jahouh, was also in fact, awarded a yellow card for that terrible error, and that, without any doubt, cost the current league leaders two points and another chance to further strengthen the lead at the top of the ISL standings.
And CFC centre-forward Isma made no mistake, sending MCFC goalkeeper Amrinder Singh the wrong way to score the goal towards the left side of the net.
This was not the first error that could have proved costly. Jahouh had, even earlier this match, brought down CFC’s Changtte outside the box just before the half-time whistle, which had resulted in a Chennai free-kick.
Lobera later admitted that Jahouh needed to improve in some areas, noting that he gave a ‘gift’ to the opposition by conceding that penalty.
"We need to avoid these kinds of situations. We have players with experience and we need to know when to do certain things and when not to do. Obviously, it was a big mistake but now we have to focus on the next game. (Ahmed) Jahouh is a very good player and has done well throughout this season but he needs to improve in certain areas. Today he gave away a gift and we lost two points," the Spaniard said after the match.
Mumbai City, however, remained unbeaten for a 12th consecutive match, meaning that they are yet to taste defeat since their opening loss to NorthEast United.
The Islanders next face the Highlanders in their next match on Saturday.
Hyderabad leave it late, Bengaluru winless in eight games
The current ISL season has been more of a misery for struggling Bengaluru FC, and just when it seemed that there was light at the end of the tunnel, a late show from Manolo Marquez-coached Hyderabad FC ensured that BFC’s winless run further extended to eight matches, their last win coming back on 17 December against Odisha FC.
BFC had sacked Spaniard Carles Cuadrat as manager after three seasons with the club on 7 January, and this was the fifth match since interim manager Naushad Moosa took charge.
This dramatic comeback from Hyderabad, only in their second ISL season, came on Thursday, only four days after Erik Paartalu’s late header salvaged a point for Bengaluru against Odisha in the return leg in that 1-1 draw on 24 January.
Coming back to the match, Bengaluru started brightly, with Sunil Chhetri successfully converting a Cleiton Silva free-kick in the ninth minute to head the ball from a close range past HFC goalkeeper Laxmikant Kattimani.
However, it was just before this goal that BFC suffered a blow when Juanan was forced to be substituted after the Spanish central-defender pulled his hamstring, bringing Parag Sivas in his place.
Hyderabad’s only weakness seemed to be in the final third. Defender Akash Mishra managed a one-two pass with teammate Hallicharan Nazary as the latter crossed into the box, but his teammates failed to give the finishing touch.
Hyderabad then resumed the second half on a bright note, with Aridane Santana creating chances but Gurpreet Singh showcasing his flexibility at the BFC defence. And then a defensive blip from the Men in Yellow in the 61st minute meant that debutant Leon Augustine took advantage and doubled the lead by slotting the ball into the net with outside of his right foot as it raced past Kattimani.
However, tactical changes from coach Manolo Marquez is what inspired this HFC comeback. Rohit Danu came in at the 85th minute and showed positive signs at the right flank. He successfully scripted a cross into the box, which was then received by Santana who smashed past Gurpreet for their first goal.
The second goal, too, came in from the right flank in the dying minutes of the game when substitute midfielder Roland Alberg, who came in at the 73rd minute, miscued a shot, but fortunately for Hyderabad, that went straight to Sandaza at the front, who took a touch before smashing the ball past Gurpreet to complete the comeback.
Marquez admitted after the match that the tactical changes did work against the former champions.
“We played with three defenders in 3-5-2 (formation) with Aridane (Santana) and Fran (Sandaza) in the middle, Hali(charan Narzary) in left and (Rohit) Danu in right. We had players like (Mohammed) Yasir and Roland (Alberg) behind strikers. I think that sometimes you can equalize like today and sometimes, in counter-attack, they can finish the game,” said the Spaniard.
The draw meant HFC retained their fourth position with 19 points, while Bengaluru stayed at seventh with 15 points.
NorthEast United down ATK Mohun Bagan amid refereeing error
ATK Mohun Bagan suffered a rare blip as they succumbed to their third defeat of the season in their 2-1 loss to NorthEast United, but that was overshadowed by yet another refereeing controversy.
Amidst the absence of VAR in the ISL, refereeing errors have headlined most of the tournament, with FC Goa coach Juan Ferrando being a vocal critic of the issue and expressing dissatisfaction.
The latest refereeing controversy took place when in the 60th minute NorthEast United’s Luis Machado nudged Tiri in a ruthless tackle well outside the box and sent the Spanish defender collapsing on the ground. However, despite the linesman raising the flag, the referee chose to overrule the linesman, allowing Machado to rush forward and slot the ball past goalkeeper Arindam Bhattacharya.
However, ATK MB pulled one back in the 72nd minute, thanks to a Roy Krishna classic, who once again showed accuracy and composure to keep the defending champions alive in the game by ending his goal drought.
ATK’s hopes of sharing the spoils, though was short lived, when in the 81st, a stunning Gallego goal filled with precision from outside the box sealed the deal for the Highlanders, sending the Kolkata-based club in tatters.
ATK MB Antonio Lopez Habas coach admitted that the first NEUFC goal was due to the referee’s decision and that changed the direction of the game.
"We were not inconsistent. I think the score is because of the referee. The first goal to Northeast (United FC) was because of referee. After that, the match became absolutely different,” the Spaniard said after the match.
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