ISL 2018-19: Energetic Kerala Blasters undone by Bhumij's moment of brilliance

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ISL
The Men in Yellow were not convincing but should still have picked three points against an off-colour Mumbai City...

Till the very end of the Indian Super League (ISL) encounter between Kerala Blasters and Mumbai City FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium, it seemed the Men in Yellow would ease their way to a second win on the trot and go top of the table. 

But a moment of brilliance from young Pranjal Bhumij, sent on as a second-half substitute more in hope than design, levelled the scores and rescued a point for Jorge Costa's men. 

On the balance of play, Mumbai City badly needed such a moment to score. They were lethargic, passive and looked nothing like a side that had it in them to score a goal. 

Mumbai City's midfield, consisting of Raynier Fernandes, Paulo Machado and Sehnaj Singh, came up cropper on the night. Both of them were bypassed with ease by the Kerala midfield which had a lot of energy and exuberance in the form of young Sahal Abdul Samad and Nikola Krcmarevic. 

Sehnaj was anonymous to a point for large passages of play while Machado failed to offer anything going forward. It was no surprise to see Costa take Machado, one of his trusted lieutenants, off and bring on Matias Mirabaje. Raynier also endured a poor game. 

It seemed as if the Mumbai midfielders were not fit enough, leading one to question their pre-season preparations. 

As a result, most of Mumbai City's attacks originated through the wings. Especially the right flank where Arnold Issoko found a lot of joy. But the lack of imagination and cutting edge in the final third would come back to haunt them. 

Kerala Blasters vs Mumbai City ISL 2018/19

Rafael Bastos pulled off a convincing invisible man act, leaving the Islanders short of men in attack while Moudou Sougou also failed to sparkle. Whatever chance he did get, Sougou managed to waste like when he shot wide after Dheeraj Singh spilt a high-ball inside the box. 

Jorge Costa has a lot of work to do, especially with regards to his team's fitness. 

Kerala Blasters, on the other hand, will rue their inability to hold on to their lead and make it two wins out of two. The Men in Yellow were good value for their lead in the first half and did have their chances to seal the result in the second. 

Their wingers, Seiminlen Doungel and Halicharan Narzary, were a handful for Mumbai City with their energy levels making a difference. The first goal did stem from the duo after Krcmarevic released Doungel who, in turn, found Narzary inside the box. 

Their forwards, Matej Poplatnik and Slavisa Stojanovic, also seem to have a good understanding.

While that may be, Kerala Blasters do have a problem they need to resolve. While it is good to see them hand out chances to a young goalkeeper like Dheeraj Singh, it was evident that he is not ready for top-flight football. 

He might be a decent shot-stopper but has tonnes to learn when it comes to being an all-round goalkeeper. His decision-making, when it came to collecting crosses and high-balls was atrocious on the night and he could have gifted Mumbai City an equaliser on several occasions when he would come out charging and end up losing the ball. 

His collection from low-crosses and shots is also not clean and leaves a lot to be desired. Although he had a cleansheet against ATK, Coppell's team had failed to test him properly in the ISL opener. 

But, on the whole, Blasters seem to have made a good start to the season and if not for one moment of magic, they would have gone top of the table. 

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