NorthEast United defeated Bengaluru 2-1 in the first leg of their Indian Super League semi-final at the Sarusajai Stadium in Guwahati. Redeem Tlang’s early goal and Juan Mascia’s late penalty gave the home team the victory, while Xisco netted what could still be a crucial away goal for the Blues.
The home side, managed by Eelco Schattorie, fielded an expected line-up with top-scorer Bartholomew Ogbeche, supported by Redeem Tlang, Puitea and Federico Gallego up front. Bengaluru started with debutant Alex Barrera in the middle of the park, besides Harmanjot Khabra. Dimas Delgado played further up front, just behind Miku and flanked by Sunil Chhetri and Udanta Singh.
It was NorthEast who started the brighter of the two teams, with Albert Serran’s wayward header almost intercepted by Ogbeche.
NorthEast would get their breakthrough soon, with Rowllin Borges feeding it to Redeem Tlang out wide.
Tlang, cutting in from the right, dropped the shoulder on Nishu and curled the ball past Gurpreet Sandhu. The ex-Shillong Lajong man netted his first ISL goal in the process. Bartholomew Ogbeche then went off with a hamstring injury as Schattorie’s team suffered a big blow with the Nigerian potentially out for the second leg.
Borges was also taken off for Nikhil Kadam, as NorthEast turned defensive in the second half. It was super-sub Xisco who would slide in Bengaluru’s equaliser after Chhetri passed it to him after good work by Miku.
A late tug by Harmanjot Khabra in the penalty area gave NorthEast United a chance to win. Juan Mascia, on for Ogbeche, put away the resulting penalty to give the Highlanders a 2-1 win.
The second leg will be played at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium on March 11.
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