The Indian Super League (ISL)’s first part of the playoffs concluded with the two knockout games that saw FC Goa and Odisha FC join Mohun Bagan Super Giant and Mumbai City FC in the semi-finals. 

The Kalinga Warriors were pushed into extra-time by Kerala Blasters FC who led until the 87th minute before Diego Mauricio triggered a comeback for the home side who managed to turn the game around. 

Manolo Marquez’s FC Goa blasted out of the box to take a 2-0 lead against Chennaiyin FC but were made to sweat for the win by Owen Coyle’s team who battled till the very end. 

As we head into the semi-finals, here’s a look at some of the key talking points from the two knockout matches. 

Odisha FC’s deadly duo rise to the occasion again

Mauricio rescued Sergio Lobera’s team from the jaws of defeat but the contribution of his strike partner Roy Krishna can’t be underestimated as he provided the assists to both their goals. It was the fifth time in his ISL career that he had recorded two or more assists in a single game equalling Hugo Boumous’ record in this metric. 

The Brazillian though continued his amazing streak against the Kerala Blasters FC scoring his seventh goal against the Kochi outfit, making it the joint most goals scored by players against them. It was also his ninth goal as a substitute which is the most by a player in ISL history. 

Krishna has also fostered a great partnership with Isak Vanlalruatfela as the duo combined for the fifth time to produce a goal. This is the joint best combination in ISL this season along with Punjab FC’s Luka Majcen and Madih Talal. 

Chennaiyin FC’s defence is their Achilles Heel

Chennaiyin FC pushed FC Goa till the final minute in the Knockout tie at Fatorda but will only have themselves to blame for not progressing to the semi-finals. 

The Marina Machans gave the hosts a head start by conceding two goals in the first half taking their goals-allowed tally this season to 38. 

Coyle’s side have now gone without a clean sheet in their last nine ISL games which is their second-longest streak in history. 

Chennaiyin FC showed plenty of fight and desire on the field this season but with a leaky defence it wasn’t enough. Great attacks win you games, good defences win you championships. Chennaiyin FC must learn this the hard way. 

Can home advantage take Odisha FC all the way?

Odisha FC extended their unbeaten record at home by another game and will once again bank on that first leg at home in the semi-final against Mohun Bagan SG. Teams have found fortress Kalinga hard to breach even after taking the lead. 

The Kalinga Warriors have won each of their last five home games in which they have conceded first showing their strength on home soil. 

Mohun Bagan SG will have their work cut out in the semi-finals if they are to avoid another must-win encounter at home in the Salt Lake stadium.

Can Brandon and Noah shine again for the Gaurs?

Midfielder Brandon Fernandes scored in the 2-1 win over Chennaiyin FC and it was just the second time in the ISL that he has netted in back-to-back matches. The Gaurs captain is finding form just at the right time and will need to be at his best to unlock the mean Mumbai City FC defence. 

Similarly, Sadaoui has been in red-hot form for FC Goa having made 10 goal contributions in his last eight matches. The Moroccan is a mercurial player that can produce a moment of magic and Marquez will be hoping he has a few up his sleeve for the semi-finals and the final.