ISL 2017, Match 1: Kerala Blasters vs ATK, Player Ratings
The ISL 2017 edition kicked off in style with Bollywood diva Katrina Kaif wooing the crowd before Bollywood superstar Salman Khan took over. After the showbiz was over we got into business right away with Kerala and ATK both looking aggressive in the opening exchanges of the game.
A couple of shots by either team within the first few minutes made it clear that both the sides wanted an early goal and settle their nerves but that didn't materialise. As the game progressed the match got stuck in midfield, but things did open up a bit in the latter part of the second half.
In truth, the game was not a dull affair but it was also not a breathtaking affair either. Both the teams had their chances of scoring and ATK did hit the woodwork once, but other than that it was a defender's game, and both the keepers did well to keep their respective opponents out.
Here, we at Sportskeeda rate the players from the game.
Paul Rachubka 7.5: The Kerala goalkeeper was in fine form today and made some crucial saves, especially the close-range save from a Hitesh Sharma toe poke. He was up to the task whenever called on, and his stability had a big role to play in keeping the match goalless.
Rino Anto 5.5: Rino didn't have the best of games today. He had a lot of crossing chances but skied most of them. His link up with CK Vineeth also looked below par.
Nemanja Pesic 8.5: It seems that Kerala have a new wall to partner their ‘Minister of Defence’. Pesic was near perfect today. He helped his back-four maintain a proper defensive line. His anticipation and clearances were crucial for Kerala. His aerial presence is also something that clubs have surely taken a note of. He was rightly awarded the Man of the Match award today.
Sandesh Jhingan 7: Sandesh had a good start and will look to improve on his form. This performance was very much needed from Sandesh after having a howler against Myanmar for the national team just a few days ago.
Lalruathara 6: Lalruathara had a bittersweet game. He had some moments of brilliance while defending and stopped Rupert from going forward a couple of times. But he committed a lot of mistakes while going forward and his link-up with Hume and Pekuson was not up to the mark.
Milan Singh 7.5: Milan was the best player on the pitch for the first 15 mins. The Manipuri midfielder is every coach's favourite, given his work rate and determination. He was brilliant throughout the game with his tackling and distribution. He also linked up well with Berbatov on a couple of occasions to create some good moves.
Arata Izumi 6.5: Arata had a game where he wasn’t seen much on the pitch, but made sure he marked his man well. He was in charge of checking Eugenson’s movement and passes and he did that with conviction. However, at certain points, his passing and anticipation were left wanting.
C K Vineeth 6: Vineeth too didn't have the best of games and if compared with last season, he had a night to forget. His runs down the flank were mostly unproductive and his link-up with Berbatov and Hume looked poor.
Pekuson 6: Pekuson too, like Vineeth, couldn't get quality crosses into the box for Berbatov and Hume. He looked out of position at times and didn’t really track back much.
Berbatov 6.5: Even though he was closely marked and didn't receive much of the ball, he did give us glimpses of his class, when he combined with Milan to open up the ATK defence. Berbatov looked a bit rusty, compared to his teammates and it is something the coach would want to work on.
Iain Hume 5.5: Iain Hume has made a name for himself in the ISL, and people expect him to play at a certain level. But tonight was one of those rare nights, that Hume would want to forget. He barely had the ball at his feet and drifted towards the flanks in search of it, but couldn't really make an impact in the game.