Talking Points From The Semifinals (Second Leg) Of ISL 7

Mumbai City FC 0 – FC Goa 0 (2-2 On Aggregate, Mumbai Win 6-5 On Penalties)

1)Islanders Reach Maiden Final

Mumbai finally took the extra step and reached an ISL final. After stumbling at the semifinal stage against ATK in 2016 and Goa in the 2018-19 edition, the Islanders would have been desperate to seal the deal and they did. They kept handing the initiative to their opponents right through the game and into the penalty shootout, but the Gaurs were in a generous mood. The eighteenth spot kick was coolly dispatched by Rowllin Borges and Sergio Lobera heaved a sigh of relief. He had been strangely off-color on the bench, allowing the game to drift by and only made his first substitutions over two legs after 180 minutes of football had been played. One of them was contentious. Phurba Tempa Lachenpa made his ISL debut when he replaced a furious Amrinder Singh at the end of extra time and even though he saved a penalty with his first touch in the competition, one got the sense that Lobera had ridden his luck. 

2) Gaurs Desperately Unlucky To Miss Out

Unlike his counterpart, Juan Ferrando made all the right calls. It started with the decision to play Iván Garrido at right-back and that worked a treat. Goa’s backline had a great game and Mumbai could manage their only shot on target as late as the 89th minute. The Gaurs carried all the threat and it was only an inspired Amrinder Singh who denied them by pulling off a string of saves. James Donachie missed a glorious chance in the last minute of normal time and that was probably a portent of things to come. Ferrando replaced Dheeraj Singh with the experienced Naveen Kumar in goal as penalties loomed and while that looked the right decision as well, there wasn’t much the Spaniard could do when four players miss their spot kicks. Donachie, cruelly enough, was one of the guilty parties. At full-time, there wasn’t much of the angst that surrounded previous heartbreaks and most of that could be attributed to the overwhelming belief that Ferrando had run a very good campaign. His team will be back stronger next season. 

ATK Mohun Bagan 2 – NorthEast United 1 (ATK Mohun Bagan Win 3-2 On Aggregate)

3) Mariners Survive Scare To Reach Final

ATK Mohun Bagan reached the ISL final at the first time of asking and will meet Mumbai in the summit clash. In an entertaining fixture, they were much the better side for large portions of the game. David Williams put the Mariners ahead on a classic counterattack before Manvir Singh continued an impressive season with a delightfully taken goal in the second half. In control for so long, Antonio López Habas’ side almost gave it away when Arindam Bhattacharya made a horrendous error in the 74th minute. He somehow contrived to push a high ball onto the path of V.P. Suhair when he should have been tipping it over the bar and paid the price as a result. There were further scares along the way but the Kolkatan side held on and Habas has now led a side to three finals in the competition. 

4) Brave Highlanders Fall Just Short

NorthEast United have had a brilliant season even though it will not feel like that at the moment for their players and supporters. Against all odds, they went eleven games unbeaten before their adventure came to an end. Deshorn Brown was back for this all-important fixture but was only fit enough to take a place on the bench. After a quiet first half, the Highlanders gave a much better account of themselves in the second with a few shots on target. Suhair’s goal gave them hope and when Subhashish Bose bundled over Idrissa Sylla in the box a few minutes later, NorthEast had the lifeline they needed. It was the tenth penalty awarded to the side this season, more than any other team, and up stepped Luis Machado. He looked nervous and sure enough, blazed the ball high over the bar. Khalid Jamil’s players battled on gamely till the end but the die was cast and they can now reflect on their journey over the past few months. 

Image Credit – Official Indian Super League Twitter Page

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