The home crowd had reason to cheer at the end of a game for the first time at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati on Saturday as NorthEast United FC ended a 10-match losing streak to pick up their first points and win of the Indian Super League season.
The home side beat ATK Mohun Bagan by a solitary goal, with striker Wilmar Jordan the man to put them in front in the 69th minute, before they kept their discipline at the back to seal a result that ended the Mariners’ own unbeaten streak and left them vulnerable to dropping out of the top three.
It was ATK Mohun Bagan that started the game on the front foot - and it would stay that way until they conceded. The visitors had a sizable number of shots on target at almost every point in the game, but an organised NorthEast United FC defense made sure that none of these shots were ever able to be substantial ones.
To their credit, the home side also made sure they kept their scoring options open and didn’t allow ATK Mohun Bagan’s much higher possession of the ball pin them back into their own halves. They were a continual threat on the counter, and although they couldn’t get too many of their shots on target as a result, they did keep asking questions of ATK Mohun Bagan’s high line.
The first real sign that they weren’t just looking to take a point from this game came in the 22nd minute when Jordan shielded the ball with his strength just outside the box, made a quick turn and got a shot away at the far post. He couldn’t find enough curl on it and only hit the post.
For ATMKB, most chances became a case of either being straight at the keeper, going over the bar, or being from a fair distance away. In the 68th minute, Kiyan Giri had perhaps the clearest chance in the second half for the visitors - but even that was from a tight angle on the right side of the box, and he could only find goalkeeper Mirshad Michu with his shot.
That was a sign of ATMKB pushing for a win that would keep them on the heels of Hyderabad FC in second place. But their commitment to scoring would turn into a boon for NorthEast United FC in the very next play. It took them only two passes to find the goal - one from defence to release Emil Benny on the right flank, and then the midfielder’s cross to find a rushing Jordan’s head in the middle of the box. From there on, NorthEast United FC took control of the game, producing more chances than ATKMB and holding on to the result.
Mumbai fight back
Mumbai City FC registered their second comeback win over Chennaiyin FC this season in the at the Mumbai Football Arena in Mumbai on Saturday.
Petar Sliskovic broke the deadlock in the 34th minute before Lallianzuala Chhangte equalised four minutes later. Greg Stewart scored in the 57th minute, to make it 2-1 as the Islanders returned to the top of the table.
The hosts fielded an unchanged XI, while the visitors made one change in goal as Debjit Majumder was replaced by Samik Mitra. Abdenasser El Khayati was the major absentee for Chennaiyin FC, missing the game due to an injury.
Four minutes past the hour-mark, Mourtada Fall was caught on the ball before giving it straight to Julius Duker. The midfielder instantly played it through to Sliskovic, who calmly slotted the ball past Phurba Lachenpa as the Marina Machans broke the deadlock against the Islanders for the second time this season.
Fall redeemed himself for the error that led to the goal just four minutes later as he headed Ahmed Jahouh’s freekick, from near the halfway line, back across the face of goal on the edge of the box, where Chhangte was lurking. The winger cushioned the ball with his left foot before firing a volley past Mitra with his right.
The comeback was complete in the second half when Bipin Singh whipped a low cross in from the left before Jorge Diaz’s back-heel flick caught the Chennaiyin FC defence wrong-footed. The ball went straight into the path of a charging Stewart, who smashed it in from close range.
In the 80th minute, Mitra was at full stretch to deny Stewart a brace from a free-kick near the edge of the box. Chennaiyin FC knocked on the door on multiple occasions but were unable to create anything substantial.