After 5 days of pulsating action, we finally have a day to catch our breath and look back at the first week of the inaugural Indian Super League. 8 teams are up against each other in the newly formed league with celebrities and corporates flooding in the cash to take Indian football to the next level. Whether that happens or not, the league has been promoted really well with a lot of non-football watching people now tuning in everyday to catch their home team or the former greats of the game. Without further to do here is the round up for the first week of the ISL
The opening ceremony at the Salt Lake stadium was a joy to behold with representatives of all the 8 teams being introduced by Priyanka Chopra, percussionists from each city and fireworks which lit up the sky. Post the ceremony it was Atletico de Kolkata who laid the marker down for what should be expected from the team. Captained by Luis Garcia, they started the brightest against a Mumbai side missing Nicolas Anelka and Freddie Ljungberg.
A brilliant through ball led Fikru through and he brilliantly chipped over the oncoming Mumbai goalkeeper to give Kolkata a deserved lead, the first goal of the ISL was scored by the Ethiopian. The teams headed into the dressing room with Kolkata leading by one goal. The second half started with Mumbai putting Kolkata under pressure and dominating possession but it was the Kolkata team that struck next.
A poor clearance from the Mumbai defense gifted the ball to Borja Fernandez and he volleyed home from outside the box to give Kolkata a 2-0 lead before Arnal scored in the 90th minute making the score line 3-0 and starting Atletico’s campaign on a flyer.
John Abraham’s NorthEast United FC took on Sachin Tendulkar’s Kerala Blasters FC. It was the away team that started the brightest and had the ball in the back of the net in the 16th minute but Hume was correctly ruled offside to keep the sides level.
The NorthEast goalkeeper deserves a special mention for keeping the score line at 0-0 with Tzorvas making some really good saves. The game really didn’t liven up and it was down to the Spanish player Koke to break the deadlock when he volleyed the ball past the Kerala goalkeeper, David James.
Do Dong-Hyun, a substitute for the home side should have put the game beyond any doubt when he was put on through but he skied the ball high above the goal despite being a few yards from goals.
This was the one match picked out by all football followers. It was Alessandro Del Piero’s Delhi taking on David Trezeguet’s Pune. Both teams started off slowly but it was the Delhi team, minus Del Piero who had the better chances at taking the lead. Mads Junker looked threatening for Delhi and combined well with Francis Fernandes but they couldn’t beat the Pune City goalkeeper Belardi.
The introduction of Alessandro Del Piero in the 37th minute was done to provide a spark in the game and the crafty Italian almost provided the breakthrough when he played Hans Mulder in who had a go from distance, just narrowly missing the Pune goal.
The Pune goalkeeper was the busier of the goalkeepers during the game and did well to deny Junker in the second half. Pune were stuck in their own half and could not break the Delhi domination. Delhi, sensing a victory brought on Brazilian Gustavo dos Santos and he almost broke the deadlock but he hit the post. The match petered away at the end with both teams settling for a point a piece.
This was a day of firsts in the league, the first Indian player to score a goal, Balwant Singh scored and then his team-mate Elano scored from a direct free kick, becoming the first player to convert a free kick and the first marquee player to open his account. It was also the first away win for any team in the league as Chennaiyin FC came out with all the 3 points.
Goa made a lively start thanks to the Portuguese Marcelino, who was in the heart of almost every attack for Goa. Frenchman, Robert Pires was also providing some attacking intent and looked to be in fine shape during the start.
The away team had to soak up a lot of pressure and scored in the 32nd minute when a ball broke to Elano and he ran towards the box before Balwant Singh scored. One became two as Elano scored a beautiful goal from a free kick which was awarded just outside the penalty box.
Goa came out all guns blazing in the second half and defender Arnolin reduced the deficit when he scored from a knockdown by Bengelloun. Goa went in search for an equalizer but Ranti Martins was denied brilliantly by the Chennai goalkeeper Bracigliano, Chennai held on to record their first win in the ISL.
An eastern derby almost, both sets of fans jubilant after their team’s opening performances in the league and both sets equally passionate about football. It was that man Fikru again who opened the scoring for the away team, he notched up the second goal of the campaign when a chipped pass by Luis Garcia found him in the box. He controlled it with his chest before slamming the ball home past the NorthEast goalkeeper to give Kolkata a deserved lead.
Tzorvas was almost caught off his line before the goal when Borja tried to lob him from the halfway line but he could not stop Fikru from scoring. Atletico piled on the pressure but could not get that second goal.
In the second half, NorthEast United came out to try and equalize and the crowd went wild when they thought that their captain Joan Capdevila had the ball in the back of the net but the goal was ruled offside, rightly so. Things became tough for the Kolkata team when Borja Fernandez was shown a second yellow and was sent off for a tug on Bertos. Atletico were down to 10 men for the final 6 minutes but instead of holding on they went on to score another goal in the dying minutes. Substitute Podany scored in stoppage time to give Kolkata a well-earned 2-0 away victory and stayed on top of the league table.