ISL 2023/24 – Matchweek 22 Review

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With Mohun Bagan Super Giants’ victory over Mumbai City FC to secure their first-ever ISL shield, the group stage of the 2023–24 Indian Super League season came to an end. In other results, Northeast United, Kerala Blasters, and FC Goa came out on top, while Punjab FC defeated East Bengal to ruin their chances of qualification. From Talal’s supremacy versus East Bengal to Liston’s brilliant strike against Mumbai City FC, we’ll look at some of the major events from this match week.

Read: Mohun Bagan clinch ISL Shield beating Mumbai City in the title decider

Madih Talal ends East Bengal’s top-6 hopes

East Bengal played Punjab in the first encounter of the match week at JLN Stadium in Delhi. East Bengal needed to win to have any chance of making the playoffs. However, Staikos Vergetis’ Punjab stunned Carles Cuadrat’s team by beating them 4-1. Jordan gave his side the lead, but Sayan Banerjee tied the score with a spectacular goal. Shortly before half-time, Madih Talal gave Punjab the lead. In the second half, Jordan and Majcen added goals three and four respectively, putting the last nail in East Bengal’s playoff dreams.

ISL
Madih Talal in action against East Bengal FC

Although Madih Talal’s signing for the following season would make East Bengal fans happy, it was the French midfielder’s goal and two assists in the game that ultimately eliminated them from the playoff race. Madih Talal scored six goals and provided an incredible ten assists with this, bringing his season total of goal contributions to 16 in the ISL. Despite his disappointment at being eliminated, Carles Cuadrat would be pleased that Talal has joined the team, adding talent to the squad and putting the team back in the running for the Asian championship starting in the following season.

Mohun Bagan SG thrash Bengaluru FC at Kanteerava

Bengaluru FC and Mohun Bagan SG squared off in the match week’s second match at Sree Kanteerava Stadium. For the Mainers to have any chance of winning the ISL Shield, they had to win this game. Bagan put up a terrific display and won the match 4-0, as was to be expected. Without head coach Habas—who was sick and spoke via a walkie-talkie—the assistant coach and the technical team ensured the victory for the Mariners. The Mainers’ goals came from Yuste, Thapa, Manvir, and Sadiku. Chhetri failed to equalize from the penalty spot in the first half as the Indian captain’s attempt struck the crossbar.

ISL
Mohun Bagan SG players celebrating after scoring against Bengaluru FC

With yet another loss, Bengaluru FC’s dismal season came to an end. They concluded the campaign without winning any trophies and in tenth place in the league rankings. Great things were expected of the Blues this season after their previous season under Simon Grayson, but they have ultimately fallen short of those expectations. The club failed to make it into the top six in the ISL, and Gerard Zaragoza, who was brought in halfway through the season, was unable to turn things around. The only team without a victory away from home this season is Bengaluru. The supporters will be hoping for improvement and anticipating a successful season next year.

Blasters back to winning ways against Hyderabad FC

Kerala Blasters defeated Hyderabad FC 3-1 in the third encounter of the match week, getting back to winning ways. Since their 4-2 victory over FC Goa at home, this was the Blasters’ first victory. With his first league goal, Mohammed Aimen got the Blasters off to a great start. Daisuke Sakai doubled the Blasters’ advantage a few minutes into the second half, and Nihal Sudeesh added a third. Joao Victor scored a consolation goal for Hyderabad in the 88th minute.

ISL
Mohammed Aimen celebrating after scoring against Hyderabad FC

Just before the playoffs, Ivan Vukomanovic and the Blasters would be happy to get back on the winning track. The Blasters’ performance in the second half of the ISL season has been extremely concerning; before entering this game, the team had only won one of their previous nine games. Ivan would be hopeful that things would improve after this victory as they strive for the opportunity to bring home their first trophy. For Hyderabad FC, the season has been one to forget—both on and off the field. Everything went wrong for the former champions, from key players leaving midway through the season to finishing last in the ISL with only one victory.

Northeast United ease past Odisha FC at home

At the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati, Northeast United FC hosted Odisha FC in the game week’s fourth match. Before the game, both sides had little stake in winning because Odisha’s league standing and Northeast’s chances of making the playoffs were already decided. In the twelfth minute, Parthib Gogoi gave the Highlanders the lead, which was increased a few minutes later by Nestor Albiach. Roy Krishna had a chance to get back, but Mirshad stopped his penalty. Shortly before half-time, Phalguni Singh increased the Highlanders’ advantage by three goals. The score was 3-0 in favor of the hosts at the final-time whistle.

ISL
Nestor Albiach celebrating after doubling the lead for the Highlanders

Odisha FC has now lost two straight league games as a result of this defeat. They previously had a chance to contend for the shield, but their performances in the latter part of the season have caused them to lag behind Mumbai City and Mohun Bagan. At Kalinga Stadium, Odisha will take on Kerala Blasters in the opening playoff match. Regarding Northeast United, in light of their previous season’s performance, Juan Pedro Benali should be extremely happy with the manner his squad performed this year. Although they just missed the playoffs, Northeast will be hoping to improve on the positives they have gathered this year.

FC Goa put four past 10-men Chennaiyin FC

FC Goa hosted Chennaiyin FC in the match week’s fifth encounter at Fatorda Stadium in Goa. While Chennaiyin FC had nothing at stake because they had already qualified for the playoffs and knew their league position before the game commenced, the Gaurs needed to win to have any chance of finishing second. Rahim Ali handed Chennaiyin FC an early lead, but Borja’s goal just after the drinks break canceled it. The match was close and extremely competitive right up until Sachu Siby, the Chennaiyin FC left-back, was sent off for giving a penalty.

ISL
Carlos Martinez and players celebrating after scoring the goal

Goa took the lead as Carlos Martinez converted from the spot with perfection. Before the half, Brandon scored a third goal, dedicating it to his late father. The game finished 4-1 in favor of the home team as Carlos scored again in the second half to complete his brace. This acted as a sort of practice match for the second playoff match that these two teams would play at the same venue. Manolo Marquez would be hoping to defeat Chennaiyin FC and win the ISL championship after failing to win the ISL Shield, while Owen Coyle would be motivated to make amends next time around as he attempts to lead Chennaiyin to the playoffs.

Habas takes revenge against Mumbai City FC

Mohun Bagan Super Giants and Mumbai City FC faced off in the match week’s last game. The winner of this match would go on to win the shield. For Mumbai, the scenario was straightforward because a draw in this match would guarantee them the ISL shield. For the Mariners, winning the game was a must for taking home the shield. At Salt Lake Stadium, in front of almost 60,000 fans, the Mariners emerged victorious in the end.

The Mariners took the lead in the first half thanks to a fantastic goal by Liston Colaco. In the 80th minute, Jason Cummings extended the Mariners’ advantage, putting them moments away from winning their first ISL Shield. Mumbai City FC lost the match 2-1 despite Chhangte’s strike in the 89th minute to give the Islanders another chance of fortune. Brendan Hamill was sent off in the stoppage time for the Mariners. Mumbai City FC were not only defeated by the opposition, but they also missed the chance to become the first side in ISL history to successfully defend the shield.

ISL
Liston Colaco celebrating after scoring the goal.

Habas would be delighted about winning the ISL shield since it was one of the achievements that had been missing from his CV since moving to India. In the 2020–21 campaign, his side was a strong contender for the shield, but Mumbai City denied him. In the same year, he also lost to Mumbai in the finals. Thus, Habas will undoubtedly be pleased to have defeated Mumbai City and win the shield despite taking charge halfway through the campaign. Knowing Habas, you could be sure he would be motivated to take home the ISL trophy as well. Conversely, Petr Kratky, who lost out on the shield on the last day, will also be vying for the ISL trophy.


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Shyam Sundar
Shyam Sundar
A youthful, diehard supporter of the Indian Football Team and Chennaiyin FC. Before the Lockdown, I didn't often watch Indian football! I occasionally kept up with the Blue Tigers, but not consistently. But ever since the lockdown, I've become really interested in Indian football. I may not have a background in journalism, but Indian football is something I am really passionate about.

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