Matchweek 18 of the Indian Super League (ISL) featured seven high-voltage matches across the first week of March 2024, where eleven teams bagged a cumulative 17 goals. Mohun Bagan SG were left out of action whereas NorthEast United FC, Punjab FC, and Mumbai City FC had to take the field twice.

The matchweek kicked off with a five-goal thriller between Mumbai City FC and Punjab FC where the Islanders edged past the Shers with a 3-2 scoreline. 

On the same night, Bengaluru FC’s Javi Hernandez secured the Blues their fifth win this season, scoring the only goal of the night when they hosted Kerala Blasters FC at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium.

On Sunday, Chennaiyin FC managed to down the mighty Kalinga Warriors at home handing them their third loss of the season. 

Hosting NorthEast United FC at the GMC Balayogi Athletic Stadium, Hyderabad FC displayed a brilliant blast of energy to score a six-minute-double that helped them secure a point against the Highlanders who had a two-goal goal lead until the 70th minute.

Noah Sadaoui spearheaded FC Goa to a narrow win against East Bengal FC on Wednesday at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Goa.

Wilmar Jordan scored his fifth goal of the season, taking down NorthEast United FC in yet another competitive match, stealing all three points with a 1-0 scoreline. 

In the closing game of Matchweek 18, Mumbai City FC came from behind to secure a point against Jamshedpur FC in their 1-1 draw.

To wrap up a matchweek that witnessed a couple of draws and the remaining fixtures being decided by a single goal’s margin, let’s take a look at the key takeaways from Matchweek 18 of the ISL 2023-24 season.

Pass masters Mumbai City FC

In the opening game of Matchweek 18, Mumbai City FC became the first team to secure a league double against Punjab FC in the ISL with their 3-2 win, previously having won the reverse fixture with a 2-1 scoreline. 

During this fixture, Mumbai City FC recorded a passing accuracy of 88.4%, which is the highest pass completion rate by any side in a single game in the ongoing league season. The Petr Kratky-coached side completed 487 of their 551 attempted passes in Delhi.

Kerala Blasters FC fail to breach Bengaluru fortress

In a tight fixture at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru on Saturday, Bengaluru FC edged past Kerala Blasters FC with a goal advantage. 

With this win, the Blues are now unbeaten in six home games against Kerala Blasters FC in the ISL, winning five of them and drawing one. The Blasters have never been able to beat Bengaluru FC in an away game in the ISL as of yet.

Chennaiyin FC break Odisha FC’s unbeaten run

Hosting a star-studded Odisha FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai, the Marina Machans stole all three points with Ankit Mukherjee and Jordan Murray finding the net. 

Odisha FC’s loss against Chennaiyin FC ended their longest unbeaten streak in ISL history, where the Kalinga Warriors remained undefeated in 13 games (W9 D4). It further ended their longest unbeaten streak in away games in the ISL which lasted five matches(W3 D2).

Parthib Gogoi, the long-range specialist

Taking the pitch against Hyderabad FC, on Monday, Gogoi bagged his fourth goal of the season in their 2-2 draw. 

The 21-year-old has scored all four of his goals from outside the box in the ongoing ISL season, the most by any player this season, and the most by any Indian player in the ISL. Only Bartholomew Ogbeche (2021-22) and Javi Hernandez (2021-22) have scored more goals from outside the box in a season (five each).

FC Goa get back to winning ways

The Gaurs had suffered a poor run of results since the league restarted after the mid-season break. Hosting East Bengal FC on Wednesday, Manolo Marquez’s side finally managed to steal all three points.

FC Goa recorded their first win in the last six games of the ISL 2023-24 season (D2 L3) following their 1-0 win against the Red and Gold Brigade. This was also their first clean sheet since their last win in the competition (against Hyderabad FC 2-0 on 1 Feb 2024).

Punjab FC continue fiery away form 

Defeating NorthEast United FC, 1-0, at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium on Thursday, Punjab FC have established themselves as a strong contender for the final playoff berth. 

With this win, the Shers are now unbeaten in their last five away games in the ISL, including wins in each of their previous three such games. The ISL debutants have kept a clean sheet in three of those five instances.

Mumbai City FC, the new league leaders

Travelling to face Jamshedpur FC in the final game of Matchweek 18, the Islanders were desperate to avenge their loss in the reverse fixture. Although Kratky’s men failed to secure a win, they showed excellent fighting spirit in coming back from 1-0 down to steal a point against a resilient Jamshedpur FC. 

With this win, Mumbai City FC climbed to the top of the league table with 36 points, overtaking Odisha FC (35 points), with both teams having played 18 matches.