ATK Mohun Bagan begin their title defense with a win over Kerala Blasters in ISL 2020-21 opener


The 7th edition of Hero Indian Super League got to a flying start as the defending champions ATK Mohun Bagan clinched a 1-0 victory against their arch-rivals Kerala Blasters.

This season is special because of many reasons and ATK Mohun Bagan, a new-old club reunion team, found the perfect start it needed.

The opening fixture was crucial for both sides as Kerala Blasters wanted to celebrate manager Kibu Vicuna’s birthday with a big win. Whereas Sandesh Jhingan, the veteran defender who shifted his base from Kerala to ATK wanted to achieve something which ATK Mohun Bagan couldn’t achieve last season, a win against Kerala Blasters.

Sandesh Jhingan stated his feeling over this record broken fixture:

“It is true that Kolkata didn’t have much success against Kerala in the last few years. But records are made to be broken.”

– Sandesh Jhingan

Last season, under Eelco Schattorie, Kerala Blasters didn’t have a very good season. Nevertheless, they were able to defeat ATK Mohun Bagan twice, home and away.

Both of the teams started well with ATK Mohun Bagan being more clinical and creating more chances while counter-attacking. Kerala Blasters’ defensive duo Costa-Kone were rock solid in the defence.

TK Mohun Bagan were playing with the 3-5-2 formation whereas Blasters were playing in the 4-2-3-1 formation. Blasters had the majority of possession around 60% but couldn’t create goals past the Jhingan-Tiri duo. Jhingan, who played 630 matches, put a wonderful performance by not allowing his former team to capitalize.

Kerala Blasters came back strongly in the second half but couldn’t find the breakthrough. The deadlock was broken by Mohun Bagan forward Roy Krishna in the 68th minute.

Edu Garcia also got a very good chance to score from a header but unfortunately, it couldn’t find the right direction. Sahal Abdul Samad, the local lad from Kannur, got two golden chances against ATKMB, but he couldn’t find the target.

Facundo Pereyra from Argentina, one of new recruits, received a booking just 3 minutes after coming to the pitch.

Gary Hooper didn’t have a dream start but was able to provide some very good passes and creating some chances. Youngsters Naorem and Ritwik Das also put up good performances.

Anyways, it was indeed a beautiful game, as promised by Kibu, that both teams played where Kerala lacked the clinical attacks. However, it was interesting to note that Blasters had almost double the number of passes as compared to ATKMB.

Mohun Bagan meets SC East Bengal in the much-awaited Kolkata derby on 27th November whereas Kerala Blasters play North East United on 26th November in their next fixtures.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, all fixtures of this season will be played in Goa state, under secure bio-bubble.

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