ISL 2023/24 – Matchweek 21 Review


Another exciting week of action has concluded, bringing unexpected turnarounds in the points table. Let’s get into the best moments and key insights from the second-last match week of the Indian Super League 2023/24 season.

Chennaiyin strengthen their playoff hopes in power-packed game

Chennaiyin FC emphatically stated their intent for a comeback this ISL season as the final weeks of the league season approached. Their determination was evident in an impressive 2-1 win against Jamshedpur FC. The Red Miners initially took the lead with their young Japanese midfielder, Rei Tachikawa, who opened the scoring by converting an assist from Mohammed Uvais into a stunning goal.

After taking an early lead, both teams struck numerous shots that were just inches away from becoming a goal, yet that didn’t quite happen, and the first half concluded. However, the Marina Machans quickly equalized in the second half with Rafael Crivellaro, sparking an impressive comeback, followed by Rahim Ali’s goal in the 59th minute, which sealed off the match for Chennaiyin FC and reignited their hopes for the highly fought-for sixth place.

FC Goa’s Sadaoui sinks Hyderabad

Hyderabad FC, continued their terrible season, displaying a poor performance against The Gaurs, reflecting the challenging phase they’re experiencing in their ISL journey, with only one win in their last 21 matches. FC Goa dominated the stats, persistently seeking to break the deadlock throughout the game. The match’s turning point came in the second half when Moroccan winger Noah Sadaoui, came in as a substitute and scored immediately.

Undoubtedly, his scintillating hat-trick in this match was unexpected as he netted two more goals after that, in the 54th, and 59th minutes. Carlos Martinez’s goal in the 84th minute wrapped off the game, ensuring The Gaurs retained their 4th place in the league table.

Bagan sustain their ISL Shield aspirations with cozy victory over Punjab

Mohun Bagan continued their dominance over The Shers as they secured a double victory against them this season. The vital moment came in the 41st minute of the first half when The Mariners’ Aussie-Greek forward, Dimitri Petratos, unleashed a stunning left-footed shot from outside the box, leaving goalkeeper Ravi Kumar with no chance of stopping it. Slovakian forward Luka Majcen did find the net in the first half, but his effort didn’t count as he was ruled offside.

Staikos’ boys applied consistent pressure but couldn’t capitalize on their opportunities against the solid MBSG defense. This loss has significantly diminished Punjab FC’s playoff prospects as they approach their season’s final match against East Bengal FC. Indian Football fans had high expectations from the team that got promoted from the I-League to the top tier, yet sadly, the newcomers have struggled to establish their rhythm in this ISL edition.

Northeast United tame Kerala Blasters

Kerala Blasters FC once again disappointed their fans with a tough loss at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati, where the away fans were eagerly anticipating a win to strengthen their bid for the playoff spot. Benali’s men gave the fans high hopes as they headed into their final match in the league against Chennaiyin FC. Making exactly ten changes to their previous lineup, The Yellow Army struggled to make a significant impact on the field, missing several goal-scoring opportunities throughout the game.

Ishan Pandita’s presence was felt throughout the entire 90 minutes, yet he failed to find the back of the net. Blasters’ debutant goalkeeper, Lara Sharma, performed impressively in his first match. However, goals by Nestor Albiach in the 84th minute and a late strike from Jithin M.S. ensured The Highlanders secured a comfortable 2-0 win, propelling them from 11th to 7th position.

East Bengal stuns Bengaluru with 2-1 victory

In a thrilling match at the VYBK stadium in Kolkata, we saw The Red and Gold Brigade thrash the top six dreams of Bengaluru in this edition of the Indian Super League. The match saw several chances for the young Sivasakthi Narayan to score in the initial phase of the game. However, the hosts found themselves in a comfortable position. Their Spanish midfielder, Saul Crespo, flawlessly sent goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh the other way and converted the penalty for his team in the 19th minute of the match.

There wasn’t much action going on in the first half other than some unfortunate tries from Bengaluru FC. Sunil Chhetri shook the net once in the second half but it was an offside. Chhetri later failed to convert a penalty for his team in the 59th minute. A comeback for Bengaluru was off the table as Cleiton Silva stunned their whole defense with a clinical header which made the score 2-1 and successfully sent Bengaluru to the 9th position of the table and out of the top six race.

Mumbai City closer to Shield with Odisha win

Petr Kratky’s team lived up to the fans’ expectations during their match against Odisha FC at the Mumbai Football Arena, delivering an exciting game. The hosts entered the match on the back of a resounding 3-0 win over Hyderabad FC, while Odisha FC had secured a victory against Punjab FC in their previous match. With this latest win, Mumbai City FC extends their unbeaten streak to five games and has conceded only four goals in their last five matches.

The match was thrilling right from the first minute, and it wasn’t long before a team made their mark on the scoreboard with Pereyra Diaz scoring in the 22nd minute. However, it took just 3 minutes for The Juggernauts to respond, as Diego Mauricio netted a banger for his 10th goal this season, placing him as the third-highest goalscorer this season. Several chances from Roy Krishna were also squandered in the first half.

Seizing on to a mistake made by Odisha FC’s goalkeeper Amrinder Singh, Lallianzuala Chhangte netted the second goal for The Islanders in the 61st minute. The match concluded in the 100th minute with the referee’s final whistle, securing a comfortable three-point victory for the home team.

FC Goa crafts late comeback win against Jamshedpur

FC Goa was ablaze last afternoon, securing a victory against Jamshedpur FC at the JRD TATA Sports Complex, staging a dramatic comeback in what was the final match of the season at the Furnace. The Red Miners initially took the lead with a goal in the 16th minute by the young Japanese midfielder Rei Tachikawa, marking his 2nd goal in as many games. This was JFC’s 4th defeat of the season under the management of Khalid Jamil.

It took just five minutes for Goa to equalize, thanks to Noah Sadoui’s stunning left-footed shot in the 21st minute, which left goalkeeper Vishal Yadav clueless. Spanish forward Carlos Martinez then extended Goa’s lead to 2-1 with a sensational volley. A notable moment occurred in the 31st minute when Jeremy Manzorro almost scored an equalizer, but his shot hit the woodwork. Additionally, Brandon Fernandes missed an open goal opportunity in the 40th minute.

Len Doungel scored in the 73rd minute to equalize, but a goal by Borja Herrera in the dying moments of the game reversed the game’s outcome, clinching three points for Manolo Marquez and the fans.

Chennaiyin dash Northeast’s playoff hopes

The last game of the match week saw Owen Coyle’s side record their third win on the trot. Benali’s Northeast United had to endure a heartbreaking evening when the two Chennai fullbacks, Ankit Mukherjee and Aakash Sangwan, put their names on the scoresheet.


Jithin MS emerged as a key player for the Highlanders, teaming up effectively with Parthib Gogoi to orchestrate the opening goal in the 49th minute. Despite NorthEast United FC’s early dominance, Chennaiyin gradually regained momentum, equalizing through Aakash Sangwan’s Olympic effort from a corner kick. Chennaiyin FC intensified their attacking efforts, led by Rahim Ali and Irfan Yadwad, earning several set-piece opportunities. In the dying moments, Rahim Ali’s precise pass set up Ankit Mukherjee for the winning goal, securing all three points for Chennaiyin FC.

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