Punjab FC defeated East Bengal FC by 4-1 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi tonight to knock out the Red & Gold Brigade from the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 race. Accordingly, Chennaiyin FC have become the sixth and final team to qualify for the playoffs. Whilst Punjab FC were out of the contention to make it to the top-six already, they spoiled the hopes of East Bengal FC who round off their ISL 2023-24 campaign with 24 points to their name.

In their final game of the season, Punjab FC had their famed attacking trio getting their name on the scoresheet as Wilmar Jordan Gil’s brace was accompanied by a strike each by Madih Talal and Luka Majcen. The gameplan of the Staikos Vergetis-coached side seemed apparent tonight, as they outplayed East Bengal FC on the flanks and sent lethal deliveries into the box that were lapped upon by their efficient forwards. In reply, East Bengal FC, for whom this was a must-win encounter, could only reply with a solitary goal by Sayan Banerjee in the 25th minute of the game.

Wilmar started the onslaught as Tekcham Singh broke the left side of the East Bengal FC defence to cut back a cross for the striker that he converted with absolute ease. Sayan restored parity with a shot from distance. A common theme in this game was that both teams were explorative in their attacking endeavours, which produced an absolute entertainer in the national capital.

Talal ensured that Punjab FC went into the break with their lead in their hand though.  Manglenthang Kipgen found ways past the East Bengal FC backline but he trusted the goal-scoring instincts of Talal by launching a delivery towards him on a tight angle. The Frenchman didn’t disappoint, showing razor sharp accuracy to hammer the ball on the high centre of the goal.

Talal then turned the provider from the scorer in the second half, embarking on another one of his blazing runs on the wing before breaking into the centre and delivering a pass for Gil that the striker converted with extreme efficiency. In search of the equaliser, East Bengal FC had exposed spaces in their backline that Punjab FC pounced upon a fast counter-attack. The variety of strikes that Punjab FC displayed tonight was a treat though. Their final effort that was netted by Majcen came as a result of some brilliant one-two passing between him and Talal on the right side of the goal. Until it was netted in, there was no clarity over who would take the shot, but Majcen finally did the honours in the 70th minute to draw curtains over any last-ditch efforts by East Bengal FC to spark a comeback.

Key Performer of the Match

Madih Talal (Punjab FC)

Talal struck the back of the net, and he recorded two assists across the 85 minutes that he played in the game. He completed 32 out of the 36 passes that he attempted, in addition to creating six goal-scoring chances and making four crosses.

Brief Scores

Punjab FC 4 (Wilmar Jordan Gil 19’ 62’, Madih Talal 43’, Luka Majcen 70’) – 1 East Bengal FC (Sayan Banerjee 25’)

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