Chencho’s spectacular overhead equaliser denies NorthEast maximum points

A late overhead strike from Chencho Gyeltshen earned Bengaluru FC a 1-1 draw against NorthEast United FC at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati on Wednesday.

  • Federico Gallego opened the scoring for NorthEast United in the 64th minute.
  • Substitute Chencho equalised with one of the goals of the season in injury-time.
  • Bengaluru extend their unbeaten run this season to nine matches.

Given the form of both sides so far, one would expect an explosive start to the match. However, neither side were able to muster up any real chances in the first 10 minutes. NorthEast were given a scare in the 11th minute when Pawan Kumar failed to properly control a back pass. Sunil Chhetri nearly pounced on his mistake, but the ball went out for a goal-kick.

A couple of minutes later, NorthEast almost broke the deadlock after some fine play by Robert Lalthlamuana. The defender found Redeem Tlang, who took one touch before firing at goal. Gurpreet Sigh Sandhu though was there to thwart the danger by rushing out to save the shot.

As the half wore on, chances were few and far between as the majority of the play was spent in midfield. Towards the half-hour mark, Bartholomew Ogbeche thought that he had put the hosts in front. The captain was adjudged to have been in an offside position after being released through on goal.

Ogbche did not seem too pleased with the referee’s decision after putting the ball in the back of the net but that proved to be the last notable piece of action of an edgy first period as both sides went into the break all square.

The Highlanders started the second half as the better of the two sides and deservedly took the lead after the hour mark. Ogbeche found his partner Gallego with a lofted pass. The Uruguayan chested the ball, beat his defender before smashing the ball home to make it 1-0 for NorthEast.

The Blues were rocked by the goal and nearly conceded a second minutes later after a lapse by Gurpreet. The custodian charged forward to clear a pass but ended up fouling Ogbeche in the process. Ogbeche, however, could not find the back of the net from the resulting free-kick.

As the tie entered its final quarter, Bengaluru finally started imposing themselves. In the 75th minute, Harmanjot Khabra was awarded a glorious chance to equalise. The midfielder pounced on a loose ball inside the penalty box to fire a shot. The Highlanders though were on guard with Mato Grgic putting his body on the line to prevent an almost certain goal.

Bengaluru had another chance to get back on level terms during the final minutes when substitute Chencho was teed up by Xisco Hernandez. The Bhutanese striker’s shot on this occasion narrowly missed the far post.

Just as it seemed that NorthEast would inflict a first defeat on Bengaluru, up stepped Chencho to redeem himself by scoring a truly spectacular goal. Kean Lewis delivered a cross from the left wing which was met by Chhetri, who headed the ball into the path of the substitute for him to produce an acrobatic overhead kick to score.

If there was one way to break down a resolute NorthEast defence, then this was certainly the way to do so.  In the end, the hosts had to settle for a heart-breaking draw as the referee blew for the final whistle shortly after.

HERO OF THE MATCH - Chencho Gyeltshen

Even though majority of the headlines will be dominated by Chencho’s goal of the season contender, plaudits must be handed out to the winger for his impact in the second half. Bengaluru seemed uncharacteristically toothless in attack for a good hour of the match. Chencho’s introduction gave the side a much-needed attacking impetus. He was deservedly awarded the Hero of the Match.

MATCH AWARDS

Club Award – NorthEast United FC and Bengaluru FC

Swift Limitless Player of the Match – Federico Gallego

DHL Winning Pass of the Match – Sunil Chhetri

ISL Emerging Player of the Match – Lalthathanga Khawlhring

Hero of the Match – Chencho Gyeltshen

WHAT’S NEXT?

Bengaluru will next face Mumbai City on December 9 while NorthEast United will entertain former champions ATK on December 8.

Watch the match highlights here

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