Well, here was me thinking I didn’t have to write another weekend roundup until next season, however, due to popular demand and the playoffs, it’s back! Hold your excitement though as we only have two games to cover. The first being Goa vs Chennaiyin in their first leg and the other being the second leg between Bengaluru and Pune. Goa vs Chennaiyin took place first, so we will look at that first.
Goa 1-1 Chennaiyin
Saturday night had high scorers Goa take on the consistent Chennaiyin in the first leg of the playoffs. Fans were hoping it was better than the first leg between Bengaluru and Pune, but they were disappointed.
Many fans were questioning if Chennaiyin could, effectively, silence the Coro and Lanzarote partnership that has ripped the ISL open this season. They definitely did better than expected however, they couldn’t silence them for the ninety minutes.
The game started and Goa were looking the livelier of the two teams, however, Chennaiyin looked cool and collected, as if they trained with the expectation of Goa taking control of the game. To be fair, all they had to do is get that crucial away goal and they had the upper hand.
The first half was horrendous and was as bad as the Bengaluru and Pune game, no one was really pushing. Coro and Lanzarote had a few half chances but they came to nothing, Chennaiyin hardly touched the ball in Goa’s box and really weren’t threatening Goa whatsoever. It ended 0-0 and it looked like it was going to be a very similar game to the Bengaluru and Pune game.
Goa came out, once again, and attacked from the first whistle, with them finally be rewarded on sixty-four minutes, when Lanzarote slotted home his thirteenth of the season to put Goa 1-0 up. We finally had a goal and it woke Chennaiyin up. Gregory Nelson was fantastic for Chennaiyin and he was the provider for Chennaiyin’s goal on seventy-one minutes, with Anirudh Thapa being the goalscorer. Chennaiyin had that crucial away goal and all the pressure was back on Goa.
After Chennaiyin’s goal nothing else happened. Coro and Lanzarote didn’t have great games and the game overall, by both sides, was pretty lackluster, considering they were in the top four teams in the ISL. The game ended 1-1 and the fans were fairly happy it ended.
Chennaiyin definitely go into the second leg with the advantage, as they have that crucial away goal and can afford to hold onto a 0-0 draw in the second leg. However, that is easier said than done, when you have Coro and Lanzarote to deal with.
Bengaluru 3-1 Pune City
One of the finalists was decided on Sunday night as favourites Bengaluru hosted underdogs Pune. Everyone was hoping it would be a better game than the boring 0-0 draw in the first leg when both teams were very cautious of each other. Well, everyone got what they wished for, as the game finished with four goals, a hattrick, and some absolute worldies.
The game started and Pune went straight at Bengaluru, however, this backfired completely and allowed the legend that is Chhetri to sneak in and slot home. 1-0 Bengaluru and Pune were rattled. They continued to go at Bengaluru, but couldn’t break their defence down, so the halftime score was 1-0 Bengaluru.
The second half was what the fans have wanted since the first leg. Bengaluru, instantly, took charge and managed to get a second goal, through a penalty, on sixty-five minutes. Chhetri was the goalscorer again and Pune were struggling. Before we move on, I must say Chhetri proved that he is a legend of Indian football, he chipped the keeper from the penalty, which took nerves of steel to do, given the circumstances.
Pune carried on attacking and were finally awarded on eighty-two minutes when Jonatan Lucca placed a free kick, perfectly, into the top corner. It was one of the best free-kicks I have seen in a while and it gave Pune hope with eight minutes to go.
However, Bengaluru stayed calm and Chhetri completed his hattrick with a fantastic touch and finish on eighty-nine minutes, to secure Bengaluru’s place in the final and killing off Pune’s comeback hopes. The game ended 3-1, with Bengaluru cruising through and Chhetri taking the match ball home.
To finish off, I want to say congratulations to Bengaluru on their progression to the final and commiserations to Pune as they did very well to hold Bengaluru in the first leg and have been a great team across the season. Who will Bengaluru face in the finals? Well, you’ll find out Tuesday night. Until next time!