Mohun Bagan Super Giant trounces Kerala Blasters 4-3 in a seven-goal thriller

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Armando Sadiku scored a brace for Mohun Bagan Super Giant

The fifth fixture of Matchday 19 of the 2023-24 Indian Super League produced a seven-goal thriller where Mohun Bagan Super Giant defeated Kerala Blasters by a 4-3 margin at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi.

An Armando Sadiku brace and strikes from Deepak Tangri and Jason Cummings comprised the Mariners’ four goals while Dimitrios Diamantakos scored a brace for the Tuskers with Vibin Mohanan scoring the other goal.

Kerala Blasters head coach Ivan Vukomanovic made four changes to his team after a 0-1 defeat in the Southern Derby against Bengaluru. Ruivah Hormipam, Naocha Singh, Danish Farooq, and Nihal Sudheesh made way for Prabir Das, Pritam Kotal, Jeakson Singh, and Rahul KP respectively.

On the other hand, Mohun Bagan Super Giant head coach Antonio Lopez Habas made three changes to his starting XI after a 3-1 win against East Bengal in the Kolkata Derby. Tangri, Asish Rai, and Sadiku were handed starts, with Abhishek Suryavanshi, Liston Colaco, and Cummings making way for them.

The game had a brisk start as it took Mohun Bagan Super Giant only four minutes to open the scoring. Anwar Ali played a ball for Sadiku from the deep, which the Albanian did well to receive and then beat his marker Kotal with a chip. He then beat Milos Drincic with his strength and slotted the ball past a diving Karanjit Singh.

Kerala Blasters had their first big chance in the 14th minute and nearly opened the scoring. Receiving a throw, Diamantakos played a lovely diagonal for Daisuke Sakai, who made room for a right-footed curler before pulling the trigger. However, Derby hero Vishal Kaith was alert to the danger.

Five minutes later, a ball from the deep split open the Kerala Blasters backline once again as Manvir Singh found himself in acres of space down the left flank. He could have launched a cross for former Tusker Sahal Abdul Samad but chose to cut it back for Dimitri Petratos instead and the Aussie attacker blasted his shot high.

The first half ended with Vukomanovic’s team producing a few half-chances. In the 35th minute, Lithuania international Fedor Cernych threaded a wonderful through ball for Diamantakos, but Kaith got to the ball before the Greek striker could. Just seconds before half-time, Vibin launched a cross for Diamantakos, but Kaith was up to the task once again.

The Mariners had a good start to the second half and could have doubled their lead in the 51st minute. Manvir launched a cross which was headed out by a player in yellow, but the rebound fell for Joni Kauko whose snap-shot was aimed straight at Karanjit.

While they could not capitalize on their chance, Kerala Blasters drew level in the 54th minute. Finding just an inch of space to turn near the penalty box, Jeakson found Vibin with a pass, who then found Rahul. The latter did well to be unselfish as he recycled the ball to Vibin, whose shot went past an outstretched Kaith to restore parity in the match.

But the joy was shortlived, as it took the visitors only six minutes to get their lead back. Petratos delivered a free-kick from the right flank, which Manvir headed down into the path of Sadiku. The former Levante striker did not let the ball bounce as he struck a powerful volley into the net.

This time, it did not take as long to respond as they drew level once again in the 63rd minute. Cernych played yet again a precise pass for Diamantakos, who beat Anwar Ali with brute force before calmly placing his shot past Kaith to make the scoreline 2-2.

Mohun Bagan Super Giant has scored the most goals in the ongoing ISL season

But the Tuskers failed to preserve the scoreline for the second time in only eight minutes, as Mohun Bagan Super Giant once again got the lead in the 68th minute. After a superb long-range shot from Suryavanshi was parried away by Karanjit, Petratos delivered a dangerous cross from the resulting corner. Tangri jumped the highest and managed to find the back of the net with his header.

Habas’ men could have doubled their advantage in the 77th minute. From the right flank, Rai found Sadiku with a cross, who had his back to the goal and hence chose to lay it down for Petratos. The former Central Coast Mariners striker struck a powerful shot, but it rattled the crossbar and stayed out.

With the entire Kerala Blasters team desperately chasing an equalizer, the Mariners came close to scoring a fourth once again in the 93rd minute. Suryavanshi’s long ball from the deep found Colaco one-on-one with Karanjit, but the goalkeeper made a stunning save. The rebound then fell for Cummings, whose shot was cleared from the goal-line by Marko Leskovic.

The fourth goal finally came in the 97th minute. Another long ball found Colaco in space down the left flank, who drilled a cross for Manvir. The attacker tried to make room for a shot but found a Leskovic tackle on his way, although the ball landed at Cummings’ feet. This time, the Australian made no mistake in scoring his ninth goal of the season.

The game was not done yet as Kerala Blasters scored a third in the 99th minute, although it was nothing more than a consolation. Emmanuel Justine delivered a powerful cross from the right flank which Anwar could not meet, but Diamantakos did as he got his second goal of the night.

With this win, Mohun Bagan Super Giant remains in second place but they are now tied with league-leaders Mumbai City on 39 points, having played a game less than the Islanders. Their next match is against Chennaiyin on 31st March. On the other hand, Kerala Blasters is in 5th place with 29 points in 18 matches. They will now take on Jamshedpur on 30th March.