NorthEast moves up to 3rd spot with 3-1 win over Odisha
NorthEast United FC pulled themselves up to third spot in the Indian Super League (ISL) with a 3-1 win over Odisha FC at the Tilak Maidan Stadium in Vasco on Sunday.
Deshorn Brown’s goal was sandwiched by Luis Machado’s brace for the Highlanders in the first half. Bradden Inman scored for Odisha before the break. Despite NorthEast going down to 10 men in the 86th minute after Gurjinder Kumar was sent off following a second booking, Odisha could not mount a comeback.
Interim coach Khalid Ahmed Jamil deployed NEUFC in a 4-3-3 formation while Interim coach Gerald Peyton lined up Odisha in a 4-4-2 formation.
NEUFC were sharper from the opening whistle and took just 9 minutes to make the breakthrough. They scored their opener in stunning fashion as an Ashutosh Mehta cross from the right found Machado with time and space near the edge of the box for the Portuguese attacker to produce a first-time finish on the volley.
Federico Gallego then played Brown in on goal with an excellent pass for the Jamaican to put the ball through Arshdeep’s legs and make it 2-0 in the 19th minute.
Gallego was also the provider for NorthEast’s third goal of the match in the 24th minute when the Uruguayan playmaker produced a quality ball over the top of Odisha’s defence for Machado to head home emphatically for his second of the night. It was 3-0 and it was all NEUFC.
At times, it was some heroic saves from Arshdeep Singh that kept Odisha from embarrassment. His saves were rewarded with a Bradden Inman goal that gave Odisha a lifeline before halftime. After Daniel Lalhlimpuia played an inviting ball for Inman to run on to towards the left of the box, the Australian midfielder’s shot took a deflection off Mashoor Shereef and went into the net to make it 3-1 at the break.
Odisha began the second period with positive intent and purpose. They also introduced star-man Diego Mauricio off the bench to freshen up their attack and the move did have an impact as the Brazilian kept NorthEast’s defenders on their toes with his trickery and guile.
The Highlanders, meanwhile, could have re-established their three-goal lead had it not been for Arshdeep. After initially getting a touch on a cross from the right, Arshdeep recovered in time to get back on his feet to stop Machado from scoring his third goal of the night with his head soon after the hour mark.
Odisha continued to try. The Bhubaneswar-based club saw more of the ball in the second half than they did in the first but weren’t creating any clear-cut chances.
NorthEast was reduced to 10 men following a second yellow card for Gurjinder Kumar. Odisha tried to make their man advantage count and came close to scoring through Jerry. The Indian winger’s shot from close range though was blocked by a NorthEast player.
The closing stages of the contest saw NorthEast have a shot on goal as well after Brown was put through on goal only to be denied by Arshdeep again. The final few minutes witnessed the Highlanders running down the clock and defending in numbers to get over the line and move up to third in the standings.
The result moved NorthEast United FC up to 3rd spot with 26 points from 17 matches. The Highlanders are 2 points ahead of 4th placed Goa and 5th placed Hyderabad who both have 24 points from 17 games. Odisha remained last with just 9 points from 17 matches and are only playing to restore some pride now.
(With inputs from ISL)