North-East United took on Bengaluru FC in Fatorda which proved to be one of the most entertaining encounters of this season so far. Two Spanish coaches came into the match unbeaten with an intent of gaining all three points. North-East started off brightly pressing down BFC and not allowing them any space and time to build up from the back. They were rightly rewarded when Roccharzela cut in from the right wing to fire a shot with his weaker left foot. The shot ricocheted twice to catch Gurpreet wrong footed finally ending up at the back of the net. While Charra claimed the goal initially, it was finally given to the Portuguese Machado who had a scintillating game of football. Machado gave the BFC wing back a torrid time with Khabra not being able to catch a breath.
Right after the goal, BFC pushed players higher into the Highlanders' half seeking for an equaliser. An ever present threat from set-pieces, BFC equalised from a long throw in into the box that Juanan crashed and slid right into the near post. Game on. While BFC had good chances in the first half, with Ashique being the most lively of the blues asking a save from Gurmeet as well as Khabra missing a chance from the box, the Highlanders held their line going level at the break. Machado was the bright spot for the away side, curling an effort above the bar as well as a free kick forcing a save from Gurpreet Singh Sandhu.
Second half was as exhilarating as the first as both teams locked horns again for the win. The Indian No. 1 proved his calibre once again with a good save from Appiah's header which could have been a massive goal for the away side. Pradhyum Reddy rightly pointing out the save as a Gordon Banks-esque save. North-East made two quick substitutes with Apuia and Ninthoi coming that provided a balance to the team. Inclusion of Ninthoi helped check Ashique's runs down the left flank. With fresh legs North-East combated the Blues well. However a mistake at the back by 3 players in a row led to the second goal for BFC. Lack of positional awareness by Gurjinder, lack of communication between the left back and Fox, and a mistake by the keeper put Bengaluru in front.
While the home side made some defensive changes after the lead, North-East brought on Sylla the super sub and Britto seeking an equaliser. At the 78th minute, a long ball was headed by Sylla into the space behind which was chased with intent by Machado. He capitalised on a mistake by Juanan to slot it home past Gurpreet. Quite reminiscent of Fernando Torres's goal against Manchester United at Old Trafford, 2009.
The equaliser provided a fresh energy to the away side who were now looking for a win. In a match that was neck-to-neck, BFC would be glad to retain one point who were matched physically by the away side. However, as coach Nus said, with an intent to win, and courage shown to make come back, they would still be gutted about the lost opportunity to grab all three.
North-East United sit at second place with 5 games played and would relish a few days for preparation against Chennayin on Saturday having played two in three days. With 21 players used in 5 games, the team looks match fit and would hope to prevent any injuries. We are sure the boys realise the mistakes and the positives out of the game and would try to convert the draws into wins. The southern devils await next.
Up the Highlanders
We Walk Through This Together