MW21 Takeaways: Five playoff spots secured, Mumbai City FC's first home defeat, and more
Matchweek 21 witnessed a rollercoaster of emotions as teams kept the fighting spirit alive and fought hard to earn the three points irrespective of their position on the table
Matchweek 21 witnessed a rollercoaster of emotions as teams kept the fighting spirit alive and fought hard to earn the three points irrespective of their position on the table. ATK Mohun Bagan became the latest team to be earn qualification into the playoffs, with the battle for the last spot going right down to the wire.
Mumbai City FC celebrated League Winners' Shield after suffering their second defeat of the season against East Bengal FC in a 1-0 loss at the Mumbai Football Arena, in Mumbai.
FC Goa fell short of success in a 2-1 defeat at the hands of rivals Chennaiyin FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, in Goa. Meanwhile, Odisha FC took a huge stride in their playoffs aspiration as they came away with a 3-1 victory against NorthEast United FC.
In double-header Saturday, Jamshedpur FC handed Hyderabad FC their fourth defeat of the season. The second clash saw ATK Mohun Bagan keeping their unbeaten record intact against Kerala Blasters FC in a 2-1 victory as they became the fifth team to qualify for the playoffs.
Matchweek 21 concluded with East Bengal FC inflicting a shock blow to league winners Mumbai City FC as they became the first team to beat them at home, securing a 1-0 victory.
Before we head into the final round of matches of the league stage of the season, let's take a look at the key takeaways from Matchweek 21:
Chennaiyin FC crush FC Goa's playoff hopes
Chennaiyin FC came brave and secured a commanding win against FC Goa in the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Goa. Both teams fought till the very end but it was Kwame Karikari's two penalty goals that cancelled out Noah Sadaoui's goal for Carlos Pena’s men. The Marina Machans registered their second consecutive victory after going on an 8-match winless streak.
The Gaurs conceded a second consecutive defeat whilst the race for the top six being at its peak. The second consecutive home defeat pushed them out of the playoff spot while helping ATK Mohun Bagan and Bengaluru FC book their tickets for the knockout round.
Odisha FC put one foot in the playoffs
The Juggernauts rode on their momentum and claimed their second consecutive three points in a 3-1 away victory against NorthEast United FC. With only one playoff spot open for grabs, the Kalinga Warriors are now one step closer to creating history as they face a must-win game against Jamshedpur FC
On the other hand, Vincenzo Annese's Highlanders suffered their 16th defeat of the season. Goals in regular intervals of the match helped Josep Gombau's men win a high stake match as they registered their third away win of the season. The final top sixth place would now be decided in the last round of league matches of the current Hero ISL season.
Jamshedpur FC show their perseverance against Hyderabad FC
Displaying an impeccable performance, the Men of Steel registered their fourth victory of the season. A strong first-half performance saw the Red Miners score three goals in a span of seven minutes. Hyderabad FC fought back in the second-half but it was not enough against a motivated Jamshedpur FC defence, who played with 10 men after defender Eli Sabia received his marching orders.
The fixture brought five goals with both teams refusing to back down. After securing consecutive top-two finishes in the last two Hero ISL seasons, Manolo Marquez's men suffered only their second defeat at home. The Red Miners look to finish their season on a high and a stunning away victory would definitely boost Boothroyd's men.
ATK Mohun Bagan book their ticket for the playoffs
The Mariners showed up strong when it mattered the most with an impressive 2-1 home win against Kerala Blasters FC. Two goals from midfield general Carl McHugh helped Juan Ferrando's men claim their seventh home victory at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata. With this victory, the Green and Maroon still remain unbeaten against Kerala Blasters FC, having won five games and drawn just one across six games in the last three seasons.
After sitting comfortably in third place in the Hero ISL points table, the Yellow Army are now in the fifth spot in the league standings. Three teams sit on 31 points going into the last round of fixtures of the league stage and it's going to be a tussle for the third and the fourth spot. The Mariners' head coach Ferrando said, "I know this team will start thinking about the next game from Sunday, not only because it is a derby but a great opportunity for us to fight for the third position,” in the post-match conference.
East Bengal FC spoil Mumbai City FC's Shield celebration party
A night for the Islanders to show their season's hard work and expensive reward, the League Winners' Shield, saw them suffer only their second defeat of the season. The Red and Gold Brigade registered their first-ever victory against Mumbai City FC in the Hero ISL. Stephen Constantine's men peaked at the right time as they prepare for the Kolkata Derby in the last match of the season. East Bengal FC became the only team to keep a clean sheet against the Islanders this season.
The Englishman fielded a young team with an all-Indian attack and handed out debuts to five Indian players. The Islanders lifted their second Hero ISL Shield and now head into a long break before the playoffs. East Bengal FC would be looking to conclude their season with a win and head coach Constantine said "I know what the derby means to everybody. It's an important game. We want to win it." in the post-match conference.