Edge-of-the-seat thrillers: Best matches of the Hero ISL 2022-23 season
From matchweek 1 to Matchweek 22 and beyond, dramatic matches, intense rivalries, inspiring comebacks, and some edge-of-the-seat goals characterised this season of the Hero ISL.
As the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2022-23 drew curtains after months of scintillating rounds of fixtures, unpredictable results, with matches featuring top quality talents from the nation and abroad, fans witnessed some of the best 90 minutes of football.
Be it teams from the top half of the table going against tailenders or two of the best teams being pitted against each other, Hero ISL brought football of the highest order. From matchweek 1 to Matchweek 22 and beyond, dramatic matches, intense rivalries, inspiring comebacks, and some compelling goals characterised this season of the Hero ISL.
Let's take a look at the best matches of the season:
Matchweek 1, Hyderabad FC 3-3 Mumbai City FC
Reigning champions going up against former champions, the spectacle brought a six-goal fest for the supporters. An own goal by Chinglensana Singh gave Des Buckingham's men the lead but Joao Victor brought Hyderabad FC back in the match with a penalty goal at the stroke of half-time.
Then, Halicharan Narzary scored at the beginning of the second half to give the lead to Manolo Marquez's men only for Greg Stewart to cancel it out in the 67th minute. With neither of the teams backing down, Victor bagged his second goal of the night as the fixture looked heading into the home team's court but it was Alberto Noguera's goal five minutes before the final minutes that concluded the match and put an end to an end-to-end battle between these two sides.
Matchweek 1, Jamshedpur FC 2-3 Odisha FC
In a fixture where two goals were scored in the first 10 minutes with the home team taking the lead through Daniel Chukwu and Boris Singh, Odisha FC made the first of many comebacks of the season. The Kalinga Warriors trailed 2-1 going into halftime after Diego Mauricio pulled one goal back.
An equally contested second-half was brought into life late in the game when Isaac Vanmalsawma scored in the 88th minute to put his side back into the match. The momentum from the equalizer turned into a crucial plug for Mauricio to score his second goal of the night and complete a momentous comeback for Josep Gombau's men.
Matchweek 2, Kerala Blasters FC 2-5 ATK Mohun Bagan
One of the highest goal-scoring matches of the season, this seven-goal thriller saw the Mariners handing a heavy defeat to Kerala Blasters FC and maintaining their unbeaten record against the Blasters intact. Ivan Vukomanovic's men opened the scoring with Ivan Kalyuzhnyi but goals from Dimitri Petratos and Joni Kauko gave them the lead going into the half-time.
Petratos scored his second goal as the Mariners tightened their grip on the three points whereas Rahul KP scored for the Blasters on the other end. However, it was not enough as Lenny Rodrigues and Petratos scored in the last five minutes to complete the victory. The spotlight fell on Petratos who took home the match ball for his impeccable hat-trick in what was his second Hero ISL appearance for ATK Mohun Bagan.
Matchweek 5, Mumbai City FC 2-2 ATK Mohun Bagan
Two attack-minded sides locked horns, with star-studded players representing both sides. The Islanders asserted their dominance quite early in the match with the help of a Lallianzuala Chhangte goal in the opening minutes of the match. A quick start in the second-half by the visitors saw them bring parity in the match as Joni Kauko scored in the 48th minute.
Rostyn Griffiths' put the Islanders in front in the 72nd minute as 10-man ATK Mohun Bagan chased for an equalizer after Lenny Rodrigues was sent off. With the game headed for a Mumbai City FC win, Carl McHugh spoiled their party and stole a point for the Mariners right at the death after scoring in the 89th minute.
Matchweek 6, Chennaiyin FC 2-6 Mumbai City FC
Eight goals. A comeback victory. This one is for the history books. Chennaiyin FC dominated the early passage of the first-half to surprise the unbeaten Islanders only for the visitors to embark on a landslide of goals to not only make a comeback but to put a stamp of authority.
Petar Sliskovic gave the lead to the home team in the 19th minute and Abdenasser El Khayati doubled the lead in the 32nd minute. The Marina Machans came flying out of the gate to take a two-goal advantage but Mumbai City FC were quick to reply with a goal in the very next minute. Jorge Diaz pulled one goal back and Greg Stewart equalized on the brink of half time through a spot-kick.
In the second half, it was one-way traffic as the Islanders displayed their dominance and took hold of the game through a Vinit Rai strike. Buckingham's men left Chennaiyin FC chasing the match as Vignesh Dakshinamurthy, Alberto Noguera, and Bipin Singh scored in the regular intervals without any reply to secure all three points. A unique game with an even unique win, the contest witnessed all eight goals being netted by eight different goalscorers, a rarity in the league.
Matchweek 7, East Bengal FC 2-4 Odisha FC
A match of two halves. First, East Bengal FC started the first half on the front foot by taking a quick two-goal advantage. Subsequently, the second-half bore a perfect representation of an ideal comeback by Odisha FC as they found the back of the net four times to take home full points.
The Red and Gold Brigade controlled a fair share of possession and it turned fruitful for Stephen Constantine's men as two goals in ten minutes by Thongkhosiem Haokip and Naorem Singh put them in the driving seat for an eventful second-half.
Odisha FC started the second half as Gombau introduced a flurry of changes in hope of making a comeback and it was proven right as substitute Pedro Martin scored two goals in two minutes to bring the Juggernauts back in the match. Jerry Mawihmingthanga hopped onto the bandwagon and scored in the 65th minute to finally put the visitors in front followed by Nandhakumar Sekar strike to complete the comeback and seal the victory for the visitors.
Matchweek 10, NorthEast United FC 3-7 Chennaiyin FC
It's not common in football to see a 10-goal match but that was the occasion when Chennaiyin FC took on NorthEast United FC. Midfielder Abdenasser El Khayati opened the scoring in the 11th minute for the Marina Machans but Jordan Gil cancelled it out with a penalty in the 36th minute. El Khayati was on the scoresheet again to give the lead to the visitors as the match headed into break.
The second-half saw seven goals scored including an El Khayati hat-trick. With a total of five goal contributions, he became the first-ever player to do so in the league. Goals from Petar Sliskovic and Julius Duker firmed Thomas Bradaric's men's grip on the three points. Romain Philippoteaux and Rochharzela scored for the Highlanders but it went in vain as there was no stopping Thomas Brdaric's men who outfoxed the hosts and registered their biggest ever victory in the Hero ISL.
Matchweek 20, FC Goa 3-5 Mumbai City FC
A brewing rivalry between two neighbouring states brought an eight-goal fiesta in front of a lively crowd as two of the best attacking teams in Hero ISL took to the battlefield.
Noah Sadaoui gave an early lead to the Gaurs as he scored in the fifth minute but the Islanders retaliated with Greg Stewart goal. Jorge Diaz scored in the 40th minute but the lead was short-lived as Brandon Fernandes brought FC Goa back in the match with an equalizer. However, the action didn't end there as Stewart doubled his goal tally at the turn of half-time and handed the lead to his side.
After a quick start to the second-half, the visitors struck first with two goals in the span of seven minutes through Lallianzuala Chhangte and Vikram Singh. Brison Fernandes scored for the home team late in the match but it was too late as Mumbai City FC continued their unbeaten streak.
Matchweek 22, Chennaiyin FC 4-3 NorthEast United FC
The last round of fixtures saw every team going ballistic as the season came to a wrap. The Marina Machans - already out of the playoffs race - were looking to end their season on a positive note.
Thomas Brdaric's men took an early lead through a Rahim Ali goal. The first-half saw only one goal scored out of a total of seven goals to set up an intense second-half.
Jordan Gil brought the Highlanders back into the game in the 52nd minute only for Kwame Karikari to hand the lead back to the home team. Captain Anirudh Thapa added his name on the scoresheet in the 62nd minute. What followed was a flurry of goals as Parthib Gogoi's goal gave a much-needed break for Vincenzo Annese's men coupled with Gil who scored the equalizer to set up the match for a frantic finish.
It was in the dying moments of added time when Sajal Bag scored the match-winning goal and lit up the whole stadium in ecstasy to see their team clinch one final victory.
Semi-final second leg, Bengaluru FC 1-2 Mumbai City FC (Bengaluru FC win 9-8 after penalties)
After a narrow one-goal victory in the first leg against newly-crowned League Shield winners Mumbai City FC, Bengaluru FC looked to solidify their place in the Hero ISL final in the second leg at the Sree Kanteerava stadium.
Javi Hernandez gave the perfect start to the home team with a well-taken headed to put the Blues on a two-goal advantage. However, Bipin Singh spoiled the party for the hosts as he pulled one back for Mumbai City FC in the 31st minute. The situation looked bleak for either side as they headed into the break.
After numerous chances, the pressure paid off for Buckingham's men as Mehtab Singh scored in the 66th minute to give the lead and brought the game on level terms on aggregate. Both teams pulled out all the stops to head to the final but the match went into the penalties after a goalless extra-time. The competition was level headed in the penalties with both sides converting their respective penalties.
As fate would have it, the goalscorer who equalised for Mumbai City FC became the victim of their loss as Gurpreet Singh Sandhu dived in the right direction and saved his penalty.