Punjab FC defeated East Bengal FC by 4-1 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi tonight to knock out the Red & Gold Brigade from the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 race.

Accordingly, Chennaiyin FC has become the sixth and final team to qualify for the playoffs.

Whilst Punjab FC was out of the contention to make it to the top-six already, it spoiled the hopes of East Bengal FC who round off its ISL 2023-24 campaign with 24 points to its name.

In its final game of the season, Punjab FC had its famed attacking trio getting their names on the scoresheet as Wilmar Jordan Gil’s brace was accompanied by a strike each by Madih Talal and Luka Majcen.

The gameplan of the Staikos Vergetis-coached side seemed apparent tonight, as it outplayed East Bengal FC on the flanks and sent lethal deliveries into the box that was lapped upon by the efficient forwards. In reply, East Bengal FC, for whom this was a must-win encounter, could only reply with a solitary goal by Sayan Banerjee in the 25th minute of the game.

Wilmar started the onslaught as Tekcham Singh broke the left side of the East Bengal FC defence to cut back a cross for the striker that he converted with absolute ease.

Sayan restored parity with a shot from distance. A common theme in this game was that both teams were explorative in their attacking endeavours, which produced an absolute entertainer in the national capital.

ALSO READ | ISL – Rising temperatures a new challenge for teams, amid heatwave warnings

Talal ensured that Punjab FC went into the break with the lead in its hand though. Manglenthang Kipgen found ways past the East Bengal FC backline but he trusted the goalscoring instincts of Talal by launching a delivery towards him from a tight angle. The Frenchman didn’t disappoint, showing razor sharp accuracy to hammer the ball on the high centre of the goal.

Talal then turned the provider from the scorer in the second half, embarking on another one of his blazing runs on the wing before breaking into the centre and delivering a pass for Gil that the striker converted with extreme efficiency.

In search of the equaliser, East Bengal FC had exposed spaces in its backline that Punjab FC pounced upon a fast counter-attack.

Punjab FC’s final effort that was netted by Majcen came as a result of some one-two passing between him and Talal on the right side of the goal. Until it was netted in, there was no clarity over who would take the shot, but Majcen finally did the honours in the 70th minute to draw curtains over any last-ditch efforts by East Bengal FC to spark a comeback.