ISL 2021-22: Brutal ATK Mohun Bagan lay down marker with victory over Blasters as expensive signings shine
Debutants Hugo Boumous and Liston Colaco score delectable goals as Mohun Bagan lay down the marker in the season opener.
Once again it was an ATK Mohun Bagan-Kerala Blasters clash that kicked off a new season of the Indian Super League. And once again it was Mohun Bagan who emerged victorious. But unlike last season's 1-0 win in the opener, on Friday, Antonio Habas-coached side registered a brutal 4-2 win.
Brutal it had to be. After narrowly missing out on the league shield and ISL title earlier this year to Mumbai City FC, Habas and his team are in no mood to take things lightly.
The preparations for the season began long back and it started by raiding the defending champions Mumbai for the highest assist-maker in ISL history — Hugo Boumous. The transfer splurge did not just stop there. In another expensive deal, Liston Colaco was acquired from Hyderabad FC. Amrinder Singh joined the squad on a free transfer from Mumbai while Finland international Joni Kauko who played in Euro 2020 was also signed.
With Roy Krishna, Tiri, Subhasish Bose, Lenny Rodrigues, David Williams and other proven players already in the squad, Mohun Bagan have assembled an all-star cast of their own. But it is the results by which this team will be judged. The players have to prove their worth on the pitch and the trial began with the match against Blasters.
It took just two minutes for Boumous — reportedly the most expensive player in ISL history — to get his name on the scoresheet. Mohun Bagan began the game in the fifth gear and capitalising on a short corner, Boumous curled in a cross from outside the box which beat Krishna and keeper Albino Gomes on its way into the back of the net. Krishna was in an offside position when the cross was made and the goal should not have stood. But it did and Mohun Bagan were off and running in ISL 2021-22.
One goal was never going to be enough for the Kolkata side and so they kept the pressure on. Manvir Singh had his header sail inches over the post in the 14th minute from a Boumous corner kick. However, it was Blasters who struck for the next goal in the match. Sahal Abdul Samad chested down a cross beautifully and fired the volley past Amrinder for an equaliser.
— Indian Super League (@IndSuperLeague) November 20, 2021
Kerala coach Ivan Vukomanovic and the bench erupted in joy but it was short-lived. Krishna is one of the best forwards ever to play in the league. Boumous is one of the best creative players the ISL has ever seen. Their partnership will define Mohun Bagan's season and in the 26th minute of the match, the duo gave a glimpse of things to come.
Krishna made a run towards the goal after making a one-touch pass to Boumous in the final third. The French midfielder responded with an inch-perfect through ball through the legs of the defenders. Krishna reached for it in the box, goalie Gomes took the striker out and Mohun Bagan had a penalty. Krishna converted it cooly and his team was 2-1 up.
Blasters tried to comeback into the game by building pressure at the other end. They had the majority of the ball. But Mohun Bagan had the combination of wits and finishing. In the 38th minute, Krishna headed down a long pass into the path of Boumous who held off his marker for a delightful dribbling goal. Things went from bad to worse for Blasters.
In the second half, Mohun Bagan did drop their tempo a bit but the highlight of those 45 minutes still belonged to them. Another of those expensive signings — Colaco curled one into the top right corner from the edge of the box on the left in the 50th minute. Magic.
The Mariners just can't stop scoring 🙌
Liston Colaco with a banger on his #HeroISL ATK Mohun Bagan debut 💥
— Indian Super League (@IndSuperLeague) November 19, 2021
This was after Colaco toyed with the veteran Harmanjot Khabra on the right flank on a couple of occasions with his menacing pace.
Kauko had a solid game in the midfield making his presence felt in the midfield. Deepak Tangri had a good outing and Amrinder was required to do very little. Overall, it was a brilliant game for the Mohun Bagan debutants.
One area where they would like to get better is the defence. The positioning and man-marking weren't the best as a delightful through ball from Adrian Luna pierced the backline for Jorge Pereyra Diaz to score a beautiful goal in the 69th minute, Blasters' second of the match.
We mustn't forget however that Mohun Bagan can only get better from here. Star players like Tiri, Michael Soosairaj, Williams and Manvir had nothing or very little to do in the match.
Habas after the match said his team needs to improve a lot. A 4-2 win wasn't enough for the Spanish gaffer. That is the standard the team has set for itself. That is the standard others will have to match this season.
The Blasters stretched their unbeaten streak to nine games and moved to the top owing to a better goal difference than Mumbai City FC. Both teams are on 17 points from 10 games
This is ATK Mohun Bagan's second match which has been postponed due to COVID-19.
Kerala Blasters vs Mumbai City FC match will now be rescheduled for a later date.