ISL: Anirudh scores as Mohun Bagan SG beat Hyderabad

Mohun Bagan Super Giant players celebrate a goal. Photo: ISL

Mohun Bagan Super Giant secured their first win after four games in the Indian Super League (ISL) as they registered a comfortable 2-0 win over Hyderabad FC at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata tonight. First-half strikes by Anirudh Thapa and Jason Cummings ensured three points for the Mariners from this clash.

Both Thapa and Cummings were notable high-profile acquisitions made by the Mohun Bagan Super Giant ahead of the season, however, they hadn’t hit the ground running yet. Cummings had a handful of strikes to his name but the expectations of impact that the team would have expected from a footballer experienced of playing in the FIFA World Cup was arguably missing so far. Similarly, Thapa had recorded reasonable playing time from the defensive midfield, but lacked any goal contribution in the ISL 2023-24.

Thankfully for Antonio Lopez Habas, these boxes were ticked in this encounter. In the 12th minute, the former Chennaiyin FC star displayed impressive positional awareness to get to the end of a corner kick, squabbling against the Hyderabad FC defenders to net the ball in and get an early lead for the home side. Cummings’ goal in the added time of the first half must have brought many a smile to the Mohun Bagan Super Giant faithful, with the Australian forward tapping in a squared-up pass by the tireless Manvir Singh at the brink of the halftime whistle.

As is the routine often, Manvir used his burst of pace to beat the opposition’s backline and get into a pocket of promising space in the final third. He then laid up a fairly straightforward low ball for Cummings, who didn’t blink twice before depositing it past Gurmeet Singh to double his team’s lead and then broke into his trademark celebration, much to the joy of the supporters on the stands.

Hyderabad FC and their inexperienced unit didn’t have much to do of in the second essay of the game. Joseph Sunny and Amon Lepcha tested their luck in different phases of the half from outside of the 18-yard box. However, none of those shots were troublesome for Vishal Kaith, with only four of their efforts throughout the game landing on target.

NorthEast United players celebrate a goal. Photo: ISL

NorthEast United FC get the better of East Bengal FC
NorthEast United FC notched a thumping 3-2 victory over East Bengal FC at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati in the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 in the first of the Saturday doubleheader.

The home side seemed eager to stamp their authority in the proceedings early on, especially to respond to the 5-0 drubbing they had faced at the Salt Lake against the Red & Gold Brigade in December.

Spanish attacking talisman Nestor Albiach was at the forefront of it, setting up the opening strike by Tomi Juric before netting the second one 15 minutes into the match. Cuadrat has taken great pride in the defensive discipline that his side has shown this season, however, a lot of it was missing in the offset of the match.

Nestor pounced upon the same in the fourth minute, squaring up a delivery for Juric that the latter merely tapped in to open the scoring in the fourth minute. However, it was the nature of the second goal that was even more impressive, with the Highlanders capitalizing on the high line that the East Bengal FC defence had employed.

Juan Pedro Benali’s side broke into a swift counterattack, with Redeem Tlang splitting open the visitors with a sharp assist that Nestor got to the end of and netted to double the lead. Such dynamic plays suggested that the Highlanders meant business and it helped them go into the halting break with the two-goal lead.

East Bengal FC emerged as an energized unit after the break and clawed back in the game with a move similar to the one that had resulted in the prior strike by Nestor. It was Cleiton Silva who helped the team break through the NorthEast United FC backline with a through ball for Nandhakumar Sekar in the 53rd minute. Nandha has set up many such deliveries for the Brazilian this season and Silva returned the favour, helping the former Odisha FC striker cut the deficit with a neat finish.

However, NorthEast United FC wore a confident look this evening and they were surely not going to budge in front of the visitors. Merely 13 minutes later, Juric launched a powerful shot from the left hand side of the edge of the box, with the effort beating a fully stretched Prabsukhan Singh Gill and helping the Highlanders bag their third goal of the game.

Silva seemed eager to get something out of the match, and he dribbled actively inside the box before shooting with his left foot. Felicio Brown Forbes headed in the rebound from close range, but the effort was not enough to secure them a point from the encounter.

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