Youngsters shined in the past week.

Gameweek 18 of the Indian Super League (ISL 2022-23) provided several exhilarating and season-defining moments, as the race for the playoffs took more twists and turns. Chennaiyin were unlucky not to get full points at home to Odisha, settling for an entertaining 2-2 draw. East Bengal secured a 1-0 upset over Kerala Blasters through Cleiton Silva’s 10th goal of the season, further tightening the margins for qualification.

The top two sides Mumbai City and Hyderabad FC played out a 1-1 draw. At the bottom end of the table, Jamshedpur FC beat NorthEast United 2-0 with goals from Ritwik Das and Chukwu. In the final match, Bengaluru FC notched up their fifth win in a row, beating ATK Mohun Bagan 2-1 with the source of both goals being former ATKMB players Javi Hernandez and Roy Krishna.

The Mariners, FC Goa, and Kerala Blasters are now nervously looking over their shoulders now that the Blues have picked up some momentum. Twelve goals from as many scorers highlighted the action-packed five ISL 2022-23 fixtures. Here are the top five performers.

5. Mohamad Rakip (East Bengal)

Mohamad Rakip up against Kerala Blasters’ Bryce Miranda. (Courtesy: ISL Media)

Rakip came on for Ankit Mukherjee, who was replaced with a supposed hamstring issue at the quarter-hour mark. Rakip did a sterling job and made an instant impact. He made five clearances and put in two successful tackles, along with a block and interception.

4. Hitesh Sharma (Hyderabad FC)

The midfielder put on an impressive shift against Mumbai City FC, helping the Nizams hold the league leaders to a 1-1 draw. Hitesh equalized for Hyderabad, squeezing in a shot from Yasir’s through ball. He also put in eight tackles and broke up play.

3. Javi Hernandez (Bengaluru FC)

Javi Hernandez after scoring against ATK Mohun Bagan. (Courtesy: ISL Media)

The former ATKMB midfielder came back to haunt his former side. Javi opened the scoring with a sweetly struck volley and completed the most passes for his team with 86% accuracy. The Spaniard linked up very well from deep, progressing play forwards and feeding the Roy Krishna-Sivasakthi strike force with measured passes.

2. Nasser El Khayati (Chennaiyin FC)

El Khayati tried everything in his power to make sure his team won in his first start since returning from an injury. He helped equalize scores with a neat left-footed finish and was exceptional with the ball at his feet. Chennaiyin look a far more threatening side in attack when he is on the pitch for them.

1. Isak Vanlalruatfela (Odisha FC)

Isak Vanlalruatfela celebrating his goal against Chennaiyin FC. (Courtesy: ISL Media)

Isak assisted Diego Mauricio for Odisha’s opener, putting the Brazilian through on goal who scored despite being offside. A few minutes later, Isak put the ball in the back of the net following up on Nandhakumar’s shot that deflected off the back post, but the goal was wrongly ruled offside. He scored Odisha’s second goal after ghosting past the Chennaiyin defence and meeting a cross.

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