The Indian Super League is known for its high-octane football that’s filled with drama and excitement for fans to thrive on. Whether it’s netting goals in the flash of an eye, as seen in ISL 2021-22, which witnessed the league’s fastest goal or ebb-and-flow encounters, it’s safe to say that the league seldom disappoints.
ISL 2021-22, in fact, has been the highest-scoring season yet as the most challenging thing in football - finding the back of the net - has become commonplace with all teams getting into the thick of the action.
That said, it’s worth mentioning that the ISL has produced its fair share of high-scoring encounters in the past as well. And here we look back at those games that feature in the top highest-scoring matches in ISL history.
Odisha FC 6-5 SC East Bengal, 2020-21
The final group match between Odisha FC and SC East Bengal in ISL 2020-21 turned out to be the highest goal-scoring match in Indian Super League history.
SCEB opened the scoring in the 24th minute, with Anthony Pilkington scoring from the edge of the box. However, nine minutes later, East Bengal conceded a goal from an Odisha corner when Lalhrezuala Sailung slotted the ball into the net.
East Bengal then went into half-time with a 2-1 lead, as winger Manu Onwu’s attempt to clear a ball hit Odisha custodian Ravi Kumar and went down as an own goal in the 36th minute.
The second half didn’t just witness a goal rush but also a series of comedic defensive errors. By the end of the fixture, Odisha had the last laugh as they registered a 6-5 win thanks to second-half braces from Indian youngsters Paul Ramfangzauva (49’, 66’) and Jerry Mawihmingthanga (51’, 67’) as well as a Diego Mauricio strike.
Odisha FC 6-4 SC East Bengal, 2021-22
With memories of the previous season’s 6-5 thriller between the teams still fresh in the minds, Odisha FC and SC East Bengal clashed in match 13 of ISL 2021-22.
East Bengal took the lead in just the 13th minute thanks to Dutch midfielder Darren Sideol, but quickly fell on the backfoot courtesy of a brace from Hector Rodas (33’, 40’) and a Javi Hernandez (45’) strike that gave Odisha a 3-1 at the break.
The goal fest in the second half began with Spanish winger Aridai Cabrera scoring from a free-kick in the 71st minute. The final 10 minutes of regulation time witnessed five goals being scored.
While a header from Semboi and twin strikes from substitute Daniel Chukwu saw East Bengal reduce the deficit to 4-5, Aridai soon sealed the contest with an emphatic finish in added time to hand Odisha FC a 6-4 win.
FC Goa 5-4 Chennaiyin FC, 2016
Any Indian football fan will tell you that an FC Goa-Chennaiyin FC fixture is never a dull affair. And the second meeting between the teams in 2016 certainly lived up to the billing as the two sides played their part in an entertaining affair that saw nine goals rattle the back of the net.
The first 30 minutes witnessed as many as five goals scored, with Chennaiyin going toe-to-toe with Goa. The first half eventually ended with Marco Materazzi’s Marina Machans enjoying a 3-2 lead.
The second half, however, belonged to FC Goa. After goals from Sahil Tavora and Rafael Coelho propelled the Gaurs to a 4-3 lead, Liverpool legend John Arne Riise’s 88th-minute penalty restored parity for Chennaiyin.
However, Chennaiyin’s hopes of a draw were dashed as Tavora scored his second strike of the match in additional time to win the fixture 5-4 for Goa.
Kerala Blasters 3-6 Chennaiyin FC, 2019-20
Although southern derbies tend to be tight and close affairs, ISL 2019-20 witnessed a one-sided encounter between Kerala Blasters and Chennaiyin FC.
Owen Coyle’s men went three up in the first half, with Brazilian attacking midfielder Rafael Crivellaro (39’, 45+1’) scoring twice and Nerijus Valskis (45) also finding the back of the net.
Kerala tried to respond through Bartholomew Ogbeche, and his hat-trick got the Blasters close to a result as the score read 3-4 in favour of Chennaiyin in the 76th minute. But sloppy defending again cost Kerala, as was the case throughout the 2019-20 campaign. Chennaiyin’s Lallianzuala Chhangte - who scored the fourth goal for Marina Machans - added another to the scoreline in the 80th minute.
Valskis, who went on to win the golden boot at the end of ISL 2019-20, found the back of the net in stoppage time to hand the Marina Machans a convincing 6-3 win.
Odisha FC 4-4 Kerala Blasters, 2019-20
Odisha FC’s final game in their debut Indian Super League campaign turned out to be an entertaining encounter that witnessed then Kerala Blasters striker Bartholomew Ogbeche net a brace.
A header from Odisha’s Manu Onwu in the second minute opened the floodgates for the contest. The Blasters though soon took the lead thanks to an own goal from Narayan Das and a 28th-minute strike from Raphaël Messi Bouli.
Odisha responded in time as they took the tie to half-time with the score at 3-2. OFC winger Onwu scored his second goal of the night with a spectacular free-kick goal that slipped past the Kerala goalkeeper, while Martín Pérez Guedes scored from the spot.
Onwu completed his hat-trick with another direct free-kick goal to put Odisha FC in the driving seat. Staring at a deficit of two goals, Kerala needed an injection of confidence to turn things around.
Step forward Ogbeche, who scored from successive penalties in the 82nd and 94th minute after being fouled in the box. The Nigerian striker’s efforts saved the Blasters from slumping to another defeat in what was an underwhelming campaign for both teams.
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Featured photo: ISL Media