The Indian Super League (ISL) resumed its final league phase with a flurry of action.

Matchweek 20 delivered results that intensified the competition for both the League Shield and the playoff race. Kerala Blasters FC confirmed their place in the playoffs, leaving only one spot for the remaining five teams to vie for.

Despite starting with a goalless draw between Bengaluru FC and Odisha FC, the remaining five matches saw a total of 20 goals scored.

Jamshedpur FC and Kerala Blasters FC settled for a 1-1 draw at the Furnace before Chennaiyin FC mounted a remarkable comeback in Kolkata, ending Mohun Bagan Super Giant's unbeaten streak at home. Mumbai City FC solidified their lead at the top with a commanding 3-0 victory over Hyderabad FC.

Odisha FC, in their second Matchweek game, bounced back to form with a 3-1 win over Punjab FC at home, while East Bengal FC staged a comeback victory against Kerala Blasters FC to close out Matchweek 20.

As we approach the penultimate Matchweek of the ISL 2023-24 season, let's delve into the key takeaways from the week gone by.

Goalless Grind at Kanteerava

In a game where both Bengaluru FC and Odisha FC needed to secure three points to keep their respective targets alive, it ended in a mere 0-0 draw, making their roads tougher. This marks the first goalless draw between these two sides in the ISL.

A win for the Kalinga Warriors would have seen them back in full force for the League Shield race. However, despite registering five shots on target, they failed to break the deadlock. This was their second-highest number of shots on target in a game where they failed to find the back of the net in ISL history. The other instance also came against Bengaluru FC, where they had six shots on target.

Bengaluru FC did manage to grind out a positive result once again on their home turf, securing their fifth clean sheet of the season. However, they failed to capitalise on a great opportunity to gain an advantageous position for the final playoff spot.

Chennaiyin FC adds heat to League Shield and Playoff race

The Marina Machans not only kept their playoff fate in their own hands but also dealt a significant blow to Mohun Bagan Super Giant’s League Shield hopes.

Owen Coyle’s side edged past the Kolkata giants in a five-goal thriller, with Irfan Yadwad scoring the winning goal in what was likely the last attack of the game. This also marked the first time a Coyle-managed side has won an away game after conceding first, having lost each of the nine previous instances.

Also Read: League Shield race, playoffs qualification scenarios explained

Chennaiyin FC goalkeeper Debjit Majumder displayed a heroic performance at the Salt Lake Stadium and played a major role in halting Mohun Bagan SG’s eight-match unbeaten run. The custodian recorded 11 saves, the most by any goalkeeper in a single game in the history of the ISL.

The Mariners must now win their remaining three matches to lay hands on the ISL League Shield for the first time.

Mumbai City FC’s grip on League Shield strengthens

The night after Mohun Bagan SG faced defeat at home, Mumbai City FC continued their brilliant run, defeating Hyderabad FC 3-0 away from home.

Lallianzuala Chhangte, Mehtab Singh, and Jorge Pereyra Diaz also found the scoresheet for the Islanders as they moved closer to defending their League Shield. This win has now put them five points clear of the Mariners at the top, albeit with an extra match played.

Petr Kratky’s men extended their unbeaten run to eight matches and they could now be crowned champions if they manage even two draws in their remaining two matches.

Odisha FC join the Elite Club

With their debut in continental competition this season, Odisha FC have navigated through a busy schedule. However, the Sergio Lobera side has consistently excelled when playing on their home turf in the league this season.

The Kalinga Warriors achieved the remarkable feat of finishing unbeaten at home during the league stages of the ISL by defeating Punjab FC 3-1 in their final home game of the league stage.

Odisha FC became just the third side to remain unbeaten at home in the league phase of any single ISL season, following Bengaluru FC (2018/19) and Delhi Dynamos (2016). Playing 11 home matches, they won eight and drew the other three.

The Spanish tactician was full of praise for the Odisha FC faithful for helping them achieve this remarkable feat.

“I want to thank the fans because, as always, they are very loyal supporters. Always with us, always behind us in good moments as well as in difficult moments. And if we achieved this, it is because of them for sure,” Lobera stated after the game against Punjab FC.

East Bengal FC - Alive and How!

The Red and Gold Brigade have reignited their playoff aspirations with a resounding 4-2 victory over Kerala Blasters FC in Kochi.

Despite conceding an early goal, East Bengal FC capitalised on the Blasters’ misfortune with two players receiving red cards. Saul Crespo and Naorem Mahesh Singh each scored a brace for the Kolkata side, orchestrating a remarkable comeback that silenced the home crowd.

This triumph marked a special moment for East Bengal FC in the ISL, as it was their first away victory after conceding a goal. The win catapulted them from the eleventh position to seventh, positioning them just a point away from securing the sixth and final playoff spot.