Alex Lima scored the only goal for East Bengal.

Kerala Blasters triumphed over East Bengal with a resounding 3-1 victory at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in the Indian Super League on Friday. Vukomanovic’s men looked like a well-oiled unit against Constantine’s new-look squad as they played some breathtaking football. Except Lima’s lone strike, the Tuskers were resolute in carrying out their defensive duties as they clamped down on Cleiton Silva and co.

Adrian Luna’s 72nd-minute strike put Kerala Blasters ahead. Shortly afterward Ivan Kalyuzhnyi’s outstanding debut stole the show as he scored twice in the span of seven minutes. Alex Lima pulled one back for East Bengal leaving the Kerala Blasters in Kochi stunned, and silenced. That, however, lasted a little longer than a minute before Ivan scored his second stunner of the night to seal all three points for the home team.

Kerala Blasters (By Riddhiman Sarkar)

Prabhsukhan Gill – 6.5

Had a rather quiet evening since he had to run out and go for a high claim only once as Kerala Blasters dominated with swathes of possession. 

Harmanjot Khabra – 7.5

Dynamic play from the versatile right-back as he was often seen switching out to left-back as Jessel took up space on the inside of the left wing. His mind-blowing diagonal for Luna to latch onto, first time, and blast into the net was easily one of the best assists in ISL history. He also made three interceptions and completed two tackles.

Hormipam Ruivah – 6.5

The level-headed youngster displayed a maturity beyond his years once again as he partnered the erstwhile Leskovic in the heart of defence. Went into the book late on for a mistimed challenge on Cleiton Silva. He won only two of his five aerial duels.

Marko Leskovic – 6.5

Marshaled the defence with his towering presence and was accurate with his passing even under pressure. Was at fault for not closing down Alex Lima and helping Gill to his first clean-sheet of the season. Leskovic made one interception and won four out of his nine aerial duels.

Jessel Carneiro – 7

Deployed almost as a makeshift winger, Carneiro pushed up high with some sweet give-and-go moves to create genuine chances. One of his first-half crosses found Giannou, who volleyed a tad bit higher to miss the mark by inches. Bombed up and down the left flank as he attempted three crosses and created one genuine chance.

Sahal Abdul Samad – 6.5

Looked to pick up right where he left off last season as he twisted and turned in the tightest of spaces to wriggle out and play the ball into his teammates’ paths. The intelligent attacking midfielder completed two out of his three take-ons and made two key passes. He left the fray for Rahul KP in the 70th minute.

Jeakson Singh – 6.5

Performed well in a hybrid box-to-box and number-six role as he was calm and composed in possession. Off the ball, he partnered Puitea well with his physical presence and tough tackling. Jeakson won four of his six ground duels and one of his two aerial duels.

Puitea – 7

Had a crack shot at goal at the half-hour mark, but was otherwise vigilant acting as the cover for the back three. Extremely comfortable with the ball as he was often seen driving forward and shepherding the Blasters’ Attack as he completed both of his take-ons. Came off for Ivan Kalyuzhny in the 80th minute after completing 83% of his passes and winning four of his six ground duels. 

Adrian Luna – 8

The twinkle-toed Uruguayan found acres of space as Giannou and Diamantakos drew away most of his markers and he accelerated into the box on multiple occasions. Drew quite a few fouls as he was intelligent with his evasion of East Bengal players. Finished with cutthroat accuracy as he acrobatically connected with Khabra’s delivery from the centre line to give the Blasters the lead. Made four key passes and finished the game on a high.

Apotostolos Giannou – 6.5

The more dangerous of the Greek striker duo as he almost got a volley into the net and was brilliantly denied by Kamaljit as his stinging shot was tipped away. Came off in the 80th minute for Bidyashasagar Singh after getting 29 touches on the ball.

Dimitris Diamantakos – 6

Positionally sound but saw less of the shooting action than his compatriot striker. Was denied from scoring as Kamaljit stretched and tipped the danger away. Got only one shot on target. He was subbed off for Victor Mongil in the 89th minute.

Substitutes

Rahul KP – 6.5

Dazzled the fans with his mazy close control after coming on. 

Ivan Kalyuzhnyi – 8.5

Dream debut for the Ukrainian as he scored after his first solo run in the Indian Super League barely two minutes after his introduction. What’s more surprising is that the midfielder scored with his weaker foot. His second was a peach as he took an uncleared ball from a corner and smashed in a venomous rocket from distance.  

Victor Mongil – N/A

The Spaniard’s introduction in a Kerala Blasters shirt was short but joyful as the Tuskers took all three points. 

Bidyashagar Singh – N/A 

Did not have much to do as he completed all eight of his passes.

East Bengal (By Uttiyo Sarkar)

Kamaljit Singh – 7.0

The East Bengal no.1 was probably a reason the scoreline didn’t look like a complete drubbing. Kamaljit showcased impressive reflexes in pulling off some stunning saves, keeping his side in the game for a long time. Not really able to do much about the goals because of how well-taken they were, but did a good job with six saves.

Charis Kyriakou – 6.5

The Greek centre-back was very solid in the left centre-back role, producing some smart stuff at the back. He made five clearances and two tackles, keeping Giannou very quiet and nullifying his threat. Substituted for an attacking change.

Ivan Gonzalez – 6.0

Gonzalez marshaled a pretty strong backline for the majority of the game, but failed to do so for the entirety of it. After doing a great defensive job in the first hour, he saw his side concede two unfortunate goals. He made eight clearances and two interceptions, but failed to keep the clean-sheet.

Lalchungnunga – 7.0

In his ISL debut, the young centre-back gave a stellar showing for himself. Lalchungnuna looked really composed under intense pressure, getting into some smart areas and neutralizing a lot of Blasters’ attack.  Made eight clearances and two interceptions, while also moving the ball impressively with a 90% passing accuracy.

Ankit Mukherjee – 4.0

Mukherjee recorded some admirable stats (six clearances, three interceptions), but his poor game-reading ability cost him time and again. The hosts kept attacking through his side to put him under severe pressure. Ankit lost mark of Luna for his goal and then disappointingly shied off for Ivan’s first – frustrating his manager.

Alex Lima – 8.0

Lima was the most exciting outlet in a rather dull attacking display from East Bengal. The Brazilian midfielder got into clever areas and tested the goalkeeper with some threatening swipes. His set-pieces were dangerous and crosses were inviting too. Lima got his side’s only goal, a well-taken volley to salvage something good from this loss.

Souvik Chakrabarti – 6.0

Souvik did a fine job in a deeper midfield role, looking energetic and pressing the Kerala players pretty well. Made three interceptions and one tackle in a hard-working outing, as well as protecting his defenders well.

Tuhin Das – 5.5

Another player making his ISL debut, Tuhin was a diligent figure on the left. He tried hard, with two tackles and two clearances, but made little to no attacking impact on the left-wing position.

Sumeet Passi – 4.0

Almost invisible on the pitch. Recorded a 41% passing accuracy and created no chances. A poor return to the ISL for Passi.

Cleiton Silva – 4.0

The East Bengal captain had a debut to forget for his side. Was completely neutralized by the Kerala Blasters’ defenders and didn’t even manage a sniff on goal. Not involved in the attack at all and was isolated for the majority of the game.

VP Suhair – 5.5

Suhair kept the Kerala defenders on their toes with his movement. He also helped move the ball smoothly in the final third with his hold-up play and link-up style. But lacked that ruthlessness in front of goal, not testing Gill at all.  

Substitutes

Semboi Haokip –  5.5

The 29-year-old couldn’t really do much after replacing Suhair, making no impact on his side’s attacking threat.

Amarjit Kiyam –  6.0

The midfielder looked energetic after coming on as a substitute, but couldn’t have an influence on the result.

Jerry Lalrinzuala – 5.5

The left-back was not really involved in anything memorable than a tussle with Rahul KP in the dying minutes.

Eliandro dos Santos – 5.5

The Brazilian forward tried to create some chances with his hold-up play, but wasn’t able to threaten the Kerala Blasters’ goal.

Jordan O’Doherty – N/A

Made his ISL debut by playing the last few minutes of the game.

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