ISL numbers: Goa tap out at 51, BFC concede after 330
A record 16 goals were scored in this season's ISL playoffs, and when the dust cleared, ATK and Chennaiyin FC were the two teams left standing. ESPN brings you some of the key numbers that ISL 2019-20 threw at us.
ATK are the first team in ISL history to have overturned a two-goal deficit in the course of the semi-finals and qualify for the final. ATK had conceded a 1-0 defeat to Bengaluru in the first leg away, and were set back by an early Ashique Kuruniyan goal; that meant ATK needed to score three goals to turn the tie back in their favour, and they did just that. The only two teams in the past to have overturned one-goal deficits were FC Goa, against Delhi Dynamos in 2015, and Bengaluru themselves last year, against NorthEast United.
The number of finals lost in two previous appearances each by the finalists Chennaiyin FC and ATK, one of whom will end up losing a final for the first time on March 14. While Chennaiyin have won their two finals outright, by identical margins of 3-2 against FC Goa and Bengaluru in 2015 and 2018, ATK beat Kerala Blasters in both their finals, 1-0 in 2014 and on penalties in the 2016 edition.
Bengaluru's 1-0 win at home gave them their fourth clean sheet in an ISL knockout game, the most for any club in the history of the competition. This took them past ATK and Goa, who have both managed three clean sheets each, but have been playing the ISL since the first season, unlike BFC, who only joined after the first three seasons.
Roy Krishna's goal in Kolkata spoilt Gurpreet Sandhu's chances of recording a fourth clean sheet in succession in ISL playoff matches - following on from a 3-0 win in the 2019 semi-final against NorthEast United, a 1-0 after extra time in the final against Goa in Mumbai, and the 1-0 in the first leg. Krishna's goal was thus the first conceded by Sandhu and BFC in 330 minutes of ISL knockout games, the first since an injury time goal by Juan Mascia of NorthEast United last year.
The 11 goals scored across two legs of the Chennaiyin-Goa semi-final are a record for most goals across the two legs for an ISL semi-final. This comfortably broke the previous record of seven. Kerala Blasters and Chennaiyin traded 3-0 and 3-1 wins in the inaugural season, while Goa's 5-1 win against Mumbai City, followed by a 1-0 win for Mumbai away, helped accumulate seven goals across the 2019 semi-finals, which stood as the record till March 7. In fact, the 16 goals for the 2020 playoffs are already a record, with one match to go, having overtaken the 2015 tally of 15 goals across five games, when Chennaiyin recorded their maiden title win.
They may have been knocked out in the semi-finals, but Goa's 51 goals this season are the first time that a team has managed more than 50 goals in a completed season. Their 46 goals in the regular season were a record too, and the 51 goals after taking into account their five playoffs goals now rewrites their own record of 43 goals, set in 2017-18.
A reason why one can expect the final to be an entertainer is that Chennaiyin promise goals in their knockout games, with 39 goals (23 for and 16 against) in 10 matches involving them. They are the only team with an average of more than two goals per game -- for all the entertainment that they provide, Goa come in a distant second with 16 goals from 12 knockout games.
After going 50 games in the ISL with just three goals for Mumbai City at the heart of defence between 2016 and 2019, Romania's Lucian Goian found himself hitting the back of the net in three successive matches for Chennaiyin. The last of them, however, was an own goal that gave FC Goa their first in the 4-2 win at home during the second leg on March 7. Goian had also scored the late winner to consign his former club Mumbai out of the playoffs race, before being rested for the last league game against NorthEast United, and then picked up his newfound scoring touch to set Chennaiyin on their way to a thrilling 4-1 win in the first leg in Chennai.
This is the third season where the playoffs haven't as yet produced a single game that has spilled over to extra time. There were no matches that went to extra time in 2015 and 2018 as well. In 2014, one of the semi-finals went to penalties, while the 2016 season featured two matches that went to penalties, with Kerala Blasters involved in both of them that season, winning their semi-final against Delhi Dynamos, but losing the final to ATK. Last year, the final went to extra time, where Rahul Bheke scored the winner for BFC in the 117th minute. Could the final on March 14 produce an outright winner and keep the sequence going?