ISL Musings: Bengaluru see red, new Goa but same Manolo, Luna magic sparks Blasters

Referee shows a red card Bengaluru FC's Naorem Roshan Singh. Abhijit Addya /Focus Sports/ISL

Ten years and two weeks of Indian Super League action, and Mohun Bagan lead the way again. Tradition is tradition. Two gameweeks in, we already have refereeing controversy. Tradition is tradition.

We muse, as tradition is tradition.

The streets of Bengaluru run red

While Bengaluru came to a standstill on the 27th of September with Google Maps resembling a biology textbook diagram of red veins, their representatives on the football pitch in Kolkata were paying their own tribute in red. Mohun Bagan SG are a tough team to beat at the best of times and going down to nine men helped no one. It was a terrible game to watch (0.79-0.54 xg), and even Hugo Boumous' winning strike could not sugarcoat what was a chore to watch. Maybe being stuck in the street traffic of Bengaluru isn't as bad.

An in a surprise to no one, Bagan also lead the league.

Luna, oh Adrian Luna

The TV coverage insists on using Ivan Vukomanovic's graphic for Kerala Blasters despite his absence on the touchline, but thankfully for the Manjappada, Adrian Luna is ever so present. After his opening game heroics, the Uruguayan took it upon himself to deliver a win for the Blasters once again. Dimi Diamantakos may have technically earned an assist, but he was effectively a glorified training cone that Luna bounced his backheeled pass off and scored from the rebound.

After a middling season last year that ended in a not-so-savoury manner, Luna seems to have the fire in his belly once again. We are truly blessed to have him in this league.

The Manolo era begins with a familiar scoreline

Manolo Marquez has a completely new squad under him at FC Goa (relatively), but the former Hyderabad FC boss made do with a 1-0 win over Punjab FC. And it was a 37-year-old marksman in front of goal who gave him the win - Bart Ogbeche once, now Carlos Martinez. The Spanish striker scored a low-xG chance with a terrific finish, but his fellow forward Noah Sadaoui reverted to type after a superb Durand Cup outing. The Moroccan winger had a fair number of chances on goal (0.64 xG - more than the entire Punjab team which managed 0.27 xG) but could only spurn all of them.

While VAR is making waves for being terrible in other leagues, the ISL's lack of it come to the fore once more, as Luka Majcen's goal, which replays showed were onside, was ruled out. The referees have a hard enough job as it is, and Kalyan Chaubey's vague promise at the end of last season to implement a 'VAR-lite' seems as much of a mirage as India's full-strength Asian Games team.

Chennaiyin's revival might be a task beyond Owen Coyle

He'd already done it once before - surely Coyle was the perfect man to lead Chennaiyin FC back to the promised land? However, for all of Coyle's relentless optimism, he was hit with cold-hard reality as NorthEast United defeated Chennaiyin with ease in a 3-0 win. The worrying bit for Coyle isn't that NEUFC were lucky - they were genuinely better than his side. The quality isn't really there, and even if Coyle manages to turn it around later in the season, it might be too late by then.

In contrast, Juan Pedro Benali has managed to turn NEUFC into arguably the most exciting team to watch so far. Now, we have to temper expectations given that it's only been two games, but when Parthib Gogoi is scoring deliciously curled efforts from range with regularity, it's hard not to dream. Nestor Albiach and Phalguni Singh are also dovetailing brilliantly, while Benali seems to have figured out how best to implement his defence.

Lobera's attempt at haunting his old side doesn't come to fruition

Sergio Lobera faced up to the man who replaced him in Mumbai City, Des Buckingham for the first time, and the Spaniard was in line for a sweet, sweet victory. Odisha were arguably deserving of the victory only for Jorge Pereyra Diaz to deny Lobera. Des Buckingham ought to be quite worried as his defence already looks leaky - and with Neymar's Al Hilal coming to town in a month, he'd better shape things up sharpish.

P.S. Carlos Cuadrat's luck and Cleiton Silva's penchant for last-minute goals might be enough to overcome East Bengal's bad luck. Hyderabad meanwhile, are set for a long, long season of pain.