Sunil Chhetri added another feather to his cap when he nicked in calmly against Hyderabad FC to score his 50th goal in the Indian Super League. The race for the highest goal-scorer in the history of the league saw its two top-scorers Bartholomew Ogbeche and Bengaluru FC captain Sunil Chhetri lock horns, with each on 49 goals.
The Indian forward had a goal drought early in the season and took 11 matches to find the net, but once that happened, he passed Ferran Corominas’ record of 48 goals first and then beat the Nigerian to the record.
Chennaiyin sacks Bandovic
The Marina Machans suffered its worst defeat when FC Goa defeated it 5-0, with CFC 0-4 down before the half-time mark.
That became the parting match for Montenegrin head coach Bozidar Bandovic, who was sacked after the game, with assistant coach Syed Sabir Pasha taking charge as interim head coach.
Bandovic, who was hired before the season, managed 16 matches for Chennaiyin FC, winning five, drawing four, and losing seven.
ATK Mohun Bagan’s record
ATK Mohun Bagan beat NorthEast United 3-1 to become the ISL side with the longest unbeaten run this season (10 games). Two clubs had an unbeaten streak of nine games previously (in the 2021-22 season) — Bengaluru FC and Kerala Blasters.
The Mariners passed the feat without key attackers Roy Krishna and Hugo Boumous and the Indian forwards, Liston Colaco and Manvir Singh, took centre stage.
Igor Angulo cuts gap for Golden Boot
Bartholomew Ogbeche has been a regular in the scoresheet for Hyderabad FC and was on the verge of making the competition for the Golden Boot a one-horse race as Angulo missed his scoring boots.
The Spanish forward took five matches to return to the scoresheet and netted against the very side he had last scored a goal — Odisha FC. Only this time, it was not just one, but two goals as Mumbai City FC comfortably beat the Juggernauts 4-1 in the return fixture this season.
With the two goals, Angulo’s goal tally went to 10, reducing the goal-margin with leader Ogbeche to just four.
Chima enjoys resurgence under Coyle
Nigerian striker Daniel Chima Chukwu became a subject of criticism when he scored just twice for SC East Bengal in 10 appearances. SCEB released him in January and signed Brazilian Marcelo Ribeiro on loan.
The same striker has enjoyed a sudden resurgence under Owen Coyle as Jamshedpur FC replaced Nerijus Valskis with Chima.
The 30-year-old has scored thrice in three starts for the Red Miners, including the winner against FC Goa.
Colaco storms into Golden Boot race
ATK Mohun Bagan forward Liston Colaco has been the only Indian striker in the top-10 goalscorers for the season and his goal against NorthEast United was his seventh and it propelled him into the top-five goalscorers this season.
Kerala Blasters went all guns blazing against NorthEast United FC and though the match finished with a 2-1 scoreline, it was KBFC striker Alvaro Vazquez who made the headlines with a goal from a shot 59 metres away from the net — the longest goal ever scored in the history of Indian Super League.
That goal, a reminiscence of Patrik Shick’s wonder striker in EURO 2020 against Scotland, proved to be the winner with Vazquez making the most of the NEUFC goalkeeper Subhasish Roy’s positioning, launching a shot as Roy was caught napping at the back.
Bengaluru FC’s unbeaten streak ends
Marco Pezzaiuoli’s side has enjoyed a sudden resurgence in the latter half of the season, breaking into the top four and coming close to getting equal on points with table topper Hyderabad FC.
However, Manolo Marquez’s side stifled the hopes for the Blues as Javier Siverio and Joao Victor scored to beat BFC and end its unbeaten run of nine games stretching to two months.
Mumbai City FC cements its arsenal
Des Buckingham’s side has returned to winning ways after six weeks and seven games with a narrow win over Chennaiyin FC and got to work to strengthen its side, retaining two of its stalwarts for another year — captain Mourtada Fall and midfielder Ahmed Jahouh.
Fall and Jahouh have enjoyed spells together in FC Goa and won the Indian Super League title with Mumbai City FC last year. The pair has continued to fire this season, with the two pairing up for two goals for the Islanders.
Fall signed the contract extension first and then his Moroccan teammate followed.
Chennaiyin FC saw its winger Lallianzuala Chhante leave, following lack of opportunities under Bandovic and joined Mumbai City FC on loan. In his very first appearance for the side, he faced his former side Chennaiyin FC, helping the Islanders return to winning ways after seven matches.
Mauritanian International Khassa Camara was one of the lynchpins in the midfield for NorthEast United in the first half of the season. As he left for the African Cup of Nations 2021, Khalid Jamil’s side slumped to the bottom of the table. On his return, he joined top-placed club Hyderabad FC as a replacement to Edu Garcia on a short-term deal till the end of the season.
Bengaluru FC did not have a lot of action in the transfer window but signed Cameroon forward Yaya Banana for the rest of the season, replacing Yrondu Musavu-King in the midfield. He made his first appearance for Bengaluru FC against Hyderabad FC, but could not make much impact as Hyderabad earned a four-point cushion at the top of the table with the win.