In the match number 91 of the Indian Super League's 2021-22 season, Kerala Blasters defeated SC East Bengal 1-0 at the Tilak Maidan on Monday.
It was a game between the sixth-placed Tuskers against the 10th-placed Red and Gold Brigade. The Blasters had everything to play for today as a win would have elevated them into the top four. Meanwhile, the Kolkata Giants had nothing but pride to play for.
The match started with the Kerala Blasters having more of the ball as they tried to score an early goal. However, SC East Bengal kept their shape well and tried hitting the Tuskers on the counter.
Rahul Paswan missed the chance of the game in the dying moments of the first half. The scoreboard at halftime read 0-0.
The Blasters started the second half on a similar note to the first half. They were rewarded for their constant pressure as Enes Sipovic gave them the lead in the 49th minute from a corner.
The Red and Gold Brigade showcased a more attacking brand of football after going a goal down and created many chances. However, Fran Sota missed a glorious chance in the 80th minute to score the equalizer. Unfortunately, SC East Bengal failed to convert the other chances that they created as well.
With the win, Kerala Blasters moved into third in the ISL points table.
On that note, let us take a look at four things we learned from today's game.
Check out the ISL news here.
#4 SC East Bengal's forward line continue to haunt them
SC East Bengal have suffered this season due to not being able to convert the chances they have created. The Red and Gold brigade have just scored 17 goals this season. Their performance in front of goal has been poor.
They have also failed to register enough shots on target. Today they had nine shots in total with just one shot on target.
Rahul Paswan and Fran Sota were guilty of missing two glorious chances, and both were clearly the best chances of the game.
The Red and Gold Brigade need to improve their finishing if they want to salvage some pride in the remaining games.
#3 SC East Bengal showcase good football but fail to win the game
SC East Bengal have played good football since coach Mario Rivera took over the team. The team has managed to get into shape, get style in place and have adopted a positive attacking brand of football.
At the start of the season, the Red and Gold Brigade looked all over the place, and the team's strategy and tactics looked wrong.
With the off-field issues surrounding the club, it was evident that they would continue to suffer this season. But the way they played in the first half of the season was something no one expected.
Rivera has been like a breath of fresh air for the Red and Gold Brigade, and he has managed to get the ISL team to play football.
SC East Bengal had more of the ball and created two of the game's best chances but failed to convert them.
The brand of football displayed by the Torchbearers will give Rivera hope for the upcoming games.
#2 Kerala Blasters look rusty in victory
Kerala Blasters won the game 1-0 today courtesy of a goal from defender Enes Sipovic in the 49th minute. They got their objective of three points but didn't look convincing in victory.
They did create chances but couldn't make proper use of them. They had a total of 15 shots but managed only five on target. Apart from Sipovic's header, the rest were all meek attempts and didn't test Shankar Roy under the bar.
Today their midfield was more occupied with winning the ball than creating chances for their attackers.
Kerala Blasters defense was also breached a couple of times by SC East Bengal.
Even with three points today, the Blasters need to get back in shape if they are to stay in the top four.
# 1 Lalthathanga Khawlhring (Puitea) is the man of the match today
Puitea was the man of the match against the Bengal side on Monday as he delivered a superb performance. His work rate was fantastic, and he seemed to cover every inch of grass on the pitch.
He grabbed an assist with a beautifully taken corner, which saw Enes Sipovic head the ball into the goal.
His passes were brilliant and intelligent on Monday as well. The way he helped out his defenders and cut SC East Bengal's passing lanes was impressive.
The Tuskers missed Puitea in their previous game when he was suspended.
His playing style and how he pairs up with Jeakson Singh have been crucial for Ivan Vukomanovic's side. His dominance in midfield was one of the crucial reasons for Kerala Blasters victory and ability to see out SC East Bengal's attacks.