The tournament had so many memorable moments with new teams and new champions

The 2020-21 season of the Indian Super League (ISL) was the longest season to-date. 11 teams entered the competition with the addition of SC East Bengal and Mohun Bagan (who combined with ATK) from the I-League.

These teams and players offered some eye-catching moments that made us gasp in awe and appreciate the quality on show. While concerns did surround the COVID-19 pandemic and safety issues, the tournament went ahead successfully. There was no shortage of action and the teams put it all out on the pitch.

Great goals were scored, resilient defensive performances were put in, records were broken. All these events contributed to a captivating season of football.

Today, let’s look at the 10 most memorable moments from the previous season:

10. Odisha FC sack Stuart Baxter

Odisha FC endured a poor season. They finished rock bottom of the league table with only two wins out of their 18 games. It was therefore evident that head coach Stuart Baxter was due to find the exit door soon. But it was the manner of his exit that was rather appalling, despite its inevitability.

In his post-match conference after losing Jamshedpur FC, Baxter used lewd and offensive remarks to address his fury against the referee’s decision to not award a penalty to his side against the Men of Steel. Disgusted by his actions, the club immediately decided to part ways with the current Kaizer Chiefs coach.

9. A first goal to remember for Glan Martins

WATCH: Glan Martins’ stunner against Mumbai City FC

The matches between Mumbai City FC and FC Goa provided loads of action and moments this season. The matches had goals, thrills, spills and so much more. But, one striking moment from their second encounter of the Indian Super League 2020/21 season would be the sensational goal from Glan Martins.

Mumbai City were flying high in the first half, running into a two-goal lead. Goa got everything but a goal and needed some inspiration. That came in the form of Martins. Playing his first game for the club, Martins took the ball from 35 yards and unleashed a thunderous shot towards goal. The shot left goalkeeper Amrinder Singh clutching at thin air and the ball screamed into the top corner.

Not only was the goal sensational, it also helped FC Goa comeback into the game, as they picked up a crucial point as well.

8. Mandar Rao Dessai becomes first player in ISL history to 100 appearances

On 1 December 2020, Mandar Rao Dessai became the first player to make 100 appearances in the Indian Super League. The diminutive wing-back made 97 of those appearances for FC Goa, before joining coach Sergio Lobera at Mumbai City.

The game against SC East Bengal marked Dessai’s 100th appearance in the ISL. He is the most-capped player in the history of the competition, featuring in 114 games in total.

7. Lalegmawia’s stunner takes NorthEast United to the playoffs

WATCH: Lalengmawia’s sensational strike against Kerala Blasters

Lalengmawia had a dream Indian Super League season. The 20-year old midfielder from Aizawl was one of the chief architects of NorthEast United‘s run to the playoffs. Therefore, he fittingly scored the goal that confirmed their entry into the playoffs. Lalengmawia went one better and made it a goal to remember.

Playing against Kerala Blasters, the midfielder took the ball on the left flank and had a clear sight at goal. Sensing his chance, Lalengmawia took his stride and smashed a shot from more than 30 yards out. The shot deflected in off the crossbar, leaving the Kerala Blasters’ defence and the goalkeeper dumbfounded.

It was the crowning moment in a season that made the league take notice of the burgeoning talent of the youngster.

6. Bengaluru FC sack Carles Cuadrat

Carles Cuadrat was sacked after four years at Bengaluru FC

Bengaluru FC came into the competition as favourites to make a playoffs run and even win the whole thing. But, the season derailed for them with inconsistent results and injuries.

It led to the sacking of Carles Cuadrat, the man who led them to their maiden Indian Super League title in 2018-19. On January 6, the club announced that they and coach Cuadrat had decided to part ways, bringing the curtains down on a four and a half year stint.

It was another moment that contributed to the down-slide of Bengaluru FC’s campaign, as they finished in seventh position and missed out on the playoffs for the first time in ISL history.

5. Mumbai City FC make their maiden final

It was a season to remember for Mumbai City FC, who won both the League Winners’ Shield and the Indian Super League title. But, their road to the final was not short of struggle.

The high-flying Islanders faced FC Goa in a tough semi-final clash having drawn the first leg 2-2. Despite the attacking instincts of both sides, the winning goal eluded the two for 120 minutes.

The eventual penalty shootout saw the Islanders prevail over the Gaurs in the test of nerves. Rowllin Borges held his composure to slot home the winning penalty and take Mumbai City to their first-ever final. It was a deserved win for Mumbai, but the game left both teams to be appreciated after what was a relentless and energy-sapping 120 minutes of play.

4. Sunil Chhetri’s 200th match for Bengaluru FC

WATCH: Sunil Chhetri scores a brace in his 200th game for Bengaluru FC

Sunil Chhetri is without doubt a bonafide legend of the game. The prolific striker has seen his legend grow with Bengaluru FC and he added another record to his armour.

The game against Mumbai City marked Chhetri’s 200th game for the Blues. Chhetri joined the club when it was founded in 2013. He assumed the captaincy in 2014 and has since been the talismanic presence at the club. Chettri has led Bengaluru to two I-League titles, one Indian Super League crown, two Federation Cups and a Super Cup.

Chhetri marked his milestone with a brace against the eventual champions, as Bengaluru ran out 4-2 winners on the day.

3. The first-ever Kolkata Derby in ISL

WATCH: The first ever Kolkata Derby in the Indian Super League

The entry of I-League heavyweights Mohun Bagan (as ATK Mohun Bagan) and SC East Bengal meant that fans had the chance to witness the famous Kolkata Derby in the league for the first time. The build-up to the game was well-documented and the fervour surrounding the fixture was palpable.

One of the biggest rivalries in Asian football, the two teams met each other for the first time in the Indian Super League on 27 November 2020. It was a game filled with chances and lived up to its billing. In the end, ATK Mohun Bagan ran away with a 2-0 win. They won courtesy of goals from the ever-dependable Roy Krishna and Manvir Singh.

2. Odisha FC 6-5 SC East Bengal

WATCH: The highest scoring game in Indian SUper League history between Odisha FC and East Bengal

The game between Odisha FC and SC East Bengal saw 11 goals scored in 90 minutes. It set the record for the most number of goals in a single Indian Super League game.

It was a nightmare for defenders as the goals kept on coming, but that added to the spectacle. Odisha eventually came out winners in the seesaw battle. Paul Ramfangzauva and Jerry Mawihmingthanga scored braces. Their braces along with goals from Lalhrezuala and Diego Mauricio gave Odisha the telling blows in the game. For East Bengal, Aaron Amadi-Holloway scored a brace along with goals from Anthony Pilkington, Jeje Lalpekhlua and an own goal from Odisha’s Ravi Kumar.

1. The crowning moment for Mumbai City FC

WATCH: The Indian Super League 2020/21 final between ATK Mohun Bagan and Mumbai City FC

Mumbai City FC won their maiden Indian Super League title in a game fitting of their credentials this season. Against a resilient ATK Mohun Bagan side, they had to dig deep and remain relentless in their pursuit for victory.

Their patience and determination eventually bore fruit in the final minute of normal time. A botched clearance by Arindam Bhattacharya saw Bartholomew Ogbeche in space to tap into an open net. His squared run saw the ball fall kindly to the feet of Bipin Singh, who smashed home the winner.

It was a telling moment as one of Mumbai City’s most influential players won them the title. The Islanders held on to become ISL champions, a week after lifting the League Winners’ Shield.

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