NorthEast United defeats Bengaluru in E-ISL Season 2 Final: Knockouts Roundup
The second season of the E-ISL came to an end with a heady round of playoffs which saw multiple upsets. The top-6 teams after the regular fixtures qualified for the Playoffs, with the top-2 automatically qualifying for the semifinals. The playoffs saw Mumbai City, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, and the Kerala Blasters vying for the two semi-final spots.
The favorites Goa, who won 9 and drew 1 of their 10 regular season games, ended up being stunned by a team that fought its way through the Playoffs. An entertaining final was then won by the Highlanders, who finished second in the regular season and received their fair share of scares, before emerging as the champions.
Eliminator 1: Hyderabad Vs Bengaluru
The first day of the playoffs began with a clash between Hyderabad and Bengaluru. The tie began with both teams showing their mettle, but it was Bengaluru’s CJ and Sagnik who outplayed their opponents to secure a crucial win.
Despite Jenasid putting up a strong fight, Sagnik made a thrilling comeback to give Hyderabad an early advantage. The second game belonged to Bengaluru, with Jenasid and Warsi unable to match the co-op skills of the Bengaluru boys. In the final game, Bengaluru needed Sagnik to make a spectacular comeback in the dying seconds to set up a semi-final date with Goa.
Eliminator 2: Kerala Blasters Vs Mumbai City
The second match saw Kerala Blasters secure their semi-final berth against Mumbai City. The Blasters won the first game surprisingly, with Lokmanyu pulling off a 1-0 victory. However, Mumbai City quickly bounced back in the following game, winning comfortably by 3-1.
The final game saw the tables turn in favor of the Kerala Blasters, with Shubum delivering a stunning performance to outdo Sakky, despite the latter managing to level the game initially. The tie ended on a sour note with Sakky refusing to shake hands with Shubum. Regardless, Mumbai City had been knocked out.
Semi-final 1 Leg 1: Bengaluru Vs Goa
The third match of the day saw Bengaluru return for their two-legged semi-final against Goa who were yet to lose this season. However, Blues’ CJ completely dominated Vanshaj and scored 5 goals in the first game.
The second game saw CJ and Sagnik combining to score two goals past Vanshaj and his teammate Aadizema. Aadizema then made a strong comeback in the final game, winning 2-1 against Sagnik and setting up an exciting second leg of the semi-final.
Bengaluru was in the lead heading into the second leg but the Blues were up against a team that was yet to finish on the losing side, in E-ISL Season 2.
Semi-final 2 Leg 1: Kerala Blasters Vs NorthEast United
The final match of the day was between the Kerala Blasters and NorthEast United, who looked dominant from the get-go. In the opening game, Lokmanyu drew first blood for Kerala Blasters, but Emaad bounced back strongly to score two goals and secure the first game.
The co-op game was a battle of wits, with both teams having numerous chances, but once again, NorthEast United emerged victorious.
In the final game, Shubum and Saransh battled it out for a 4-3 scoreline in favor of the Highlanders who already had one foot in the final, ahead of the final matchday of the season.
Semi-final 1 Leg 2: Bengaluru Vs Goa
The day began with the second leg of the semifinal between Bengaluru and Goa. The Blues had a 2-1 advantage which they lost in game 1. In the second game, the Blues dominated the eGaurs, scoring five goals to one and taking the lead once again.
The final game was a battle between Aadizema and Sagnik, with the latter scoring the first goal. Although Aadizema equalized, Sagnik secured a late winner, giving Bengaluru a 4-2 aggregate victory. They became the first finalists for season 2 of the E-ISL.
Semi-final 2 Leg 2: NorthEast United Vs Kerala Blasters
The second match of the day was a mere formality as the Highlanders already had a 3-0 lead over Kerala. Shubum was able to win for the Blasters in game 1 after it went to penalties. However, NorthEast United finished the tie in game 2.
The Highlanders opened the scoring in the co-op but Shubum and Lokmanyu came back with the equalizer. With just 15 minutes to go, the NorthEast boys sealed the win with their second and winner of the game. The Highlanders had won the tie by a margin of 4-1 and were in control right from the start.
With that, a highly entertaining final between NorthEast and the surprise contenders for this season, Bengaluru had been set up.
Final: Bengaluru Vs NorthEast United
The final proved to be as much a battle of resilience and determination as that of skill. The Blues had shown some rampant form to make their way to the final, and that seemed to continue in game 1 as CJ12 scored 4 goals past saranshjain12 to make it the worst possible start for NorthEast United.
The co-op game produced some football fit for the final. Both teams created innumerable chances but could not get on the scoresheet. The same occurred during the extra time, which led the game to penalties. Both teams again were neck-to-neck, scoring the first five penalties until Bengaluru finally missed their eighth penalty, during sudden death.
After scraping past the Blues in game 2, the Highlanders’ Emaadrox found himself up against Sagnik. The Highlanders went ahead twice in the game, but Sagnik found two equalizers, the second coming in the 68th minute of the game. With the title on the line, Emaadrox quickly responded with his third goal of the game and did enough to hang on until the final whistle.
The duo of Emaadrox and saranshjain12 were impressive throughout the tournament, finishing 2nd in the group stage. They held their nerve in the final despite a determined effort by the Blues, who stayed in contention until the very end. After an entertaining Playoff stage, E-ISL Season 2 ended with the Highlanders being crowned champions.