The Indian Super League (ISL) 2020-21 playoff spots were finalised on Sunday with Mumbai City FC, ATK Mohun Bagan, NorthEast United FC and FC Goa making the cut for the semi-finals.
Mumbai City FC will play their two-legged semi-final against fourth-placed FC Goa, while ATK Mohun Bagan, who finished second in the league stage, will lock horns with third-placed NorthEast United FC.
The top four race went down right to the wire with the two matches on the final day settling the top four teams and their order in the top four.
Here's a look at the ISL 2020-21 semi-finalists and their playoff schedule.
Mumbai City FC
Mumbai City FC finished as the top team, winning the ISL League Winners' Shield and clinching the AFC Champions League 2022 berth in the process.
Having been taken over by the City Group, owners of Premier League giants Manchester City, the Islanders, under new coach Sergio Lobera, were off to a poor start, losing their opening match.
MCFC, though, rallied and went on a 12-match unbeaten run to take control of the top spot.
A late blip, where they picked up just four points in five matches, saw them concede the summit to ATK Mohun Bagan.
But a run of three wins on the bounce to end the league phase, including a win over ATK Mohun Bagan on the final day, saw them take back the top spot right in the final match of the league phase.
Mumbai ended on 40 points from 20 matches - the same as ATK Mohun Bagan - but finished above ATKMB by virtue of their superior head-to-head record.
ATK Mohun Bagan
Last season's champions ATK merged with legacy club Mohun Bagan to form ATK Mohun Bagan.
Though ISL 2020-21 marked the debut season for the new entity, the majority of the squad was retained from the previous champion ATK side, including head coach Antonio Lopez Habas.
ATKMB showcased the consistency generally associated with Habas' teams and were in contention for the top spot throughout.
However, a draw and a loss in their final two fixtures saw them concede the top spot to Mumbai City FC.
NorthEast United FC
For NorthEast United FC, tumultuous should be the best way to describe their season.
Under Spanish head coach Gerard Nus, the Highlanders started well, remaining unbeaten in their first six matches of the league.
However, things soon took a downward turn as they went on a five-match winless run (3 losses and two draws).
The phase and reported falling outs in the dressing room saw Gerard Nus leave mid-January, with NEUFC languishing towards the bottom of the table.
Khalid Jamil was given the reins mid-January as the interim coach and the Indian worked his magic.
The team rallied behind him to go on a nine-match unbeaten streak and end the league phase on third - a proposition which seemed unlikely when Khalid Jamil took over.
FC Goa's season began as a mixed bag as the Gaurs put up only eight points on the table after their opening seven matches.
A very new-look side led by new coach Juan Ferrando, though, soon began finding their identity as a team.
In the final 13 matches of the season, FC Goa proved extremely hard to beat, not losing a single match.
Though there were a fair number of draws (8) in their unbeaten run, it was enough for the Gaurs to sneak into fourth place. They drew their final match against Hyderabad FC 0-0 to secure their spot right on the final matchday of the league phase.
Goa's 13-match undefeated run is also currently the longest unbeaten streak in an ISL season - usurping Mumbai's 12-match run from earlier in the season.
ISL playoffs format explained
As per the ISL tournament structure, the top four teams at the end of the ISL 2020-21 league phase progresses to the playoffs. The top team faces off against the fourth-placed team in semi-final 1, while the second and third-placed teams square off in semi-final 2.
Both semi-finals are played over two legs with winners from each moving on to the final on March 13 at Fatorda.
The semi-finals will be played across two venues – the GMC Stadium in Bambolim and the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Fatorda.
This season, the 'Away Goal' rule will not apply in the semi-finals. Teams with the highest goal aggregate in their respective two-legged ties will progress to the final.
ISL 2020-21 semi-finals, fixtures, schedule and live match times
All times are Indian Standard Time (IST)
Friday, March 5: Semi-final 1 – FC Goa vs Mumbai City FC 1st leg - 7:30 PM IST
Saturday, March 6: Semi-final 2 – NorthEast United vs ATK Mohun Bagan 1st leg - 7:30 PM IST
Monday, March 8: Semi-final 1 – Mumbai City FC vs FC Goa 2nd leg - 7:30 PM IST
Tuesday, March 9: Semi-final 2 – ATK Mohun Bagan vs NorthEast United 2nd leg - 7:30 PM IST
Saturday, March 13: ISL final
How to watch ISL live?
The ISL is telecast live on Star Sports 1, Star Sports 2, Star Sports 3, Star Sports 1 Hindi and their respective HD TV channels in India.
Live streaming of ISL will be on Disney+ Hotstar and Jio TV.
Lead photo: ISL Media