Balwant’s brace sinks Highlanders at home
NorthEast United FC suffered another home setback in Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2017-18 after Mumbai City FC came away with all three points at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati on Wednesday. Balwant Singh scored on either side of half-time to ensure a 2-0 win for the Islanders.
NorthEast were on the attack from the start and were unlucky not to have scored in the fourth minute. Luis Alfonso nicked the ball from Achille Emana in midfield and dribbled his way into the box to get his shot away. It beat custodian Amrinder Singh, but not the upright.
The 26th minute saw the home team miss a great chance. Halicharan Narzary whipped in a pass from the left flank to which Marcinho got a toe to set up Seiminlen Doungel. An onrushing Amrinder, however, put Doungel off, and he couldn’t keep his shot on target. Three minutes later, Narzary fashioned a shot from a slightly acute angle, but it resulted in the ball just about sailing over the crossbar.
However, it was Mumbai City who took the lead against the run of play, and it was down to some lapse judgement from Highlanders’ keeper Ravi Kumar who was covering for a suspended TP Rehenesh. Balwant got on the other side of the defence with the ball, but the NorthEast defenders could have probably covered back. Kumar though chose to rush out of the box, and Mumbai’s top scorer slotted the ball through his legs and into the goal for a 1-0 lead at the break for the visitors.
NorthEast took the charge once more after the restart, and substitute Malemngamba Meitei stung Amrinder’s palms with a fierce shot after skipping away from his marker on the hour mark. Mumbai fashioned a couple of opportunities themselves within the next four minutes. First Emana’s 62nd minute shot after cutting inside was met with a smart save from Kumar. Then two minutes later, Balwant missed a glorious opportunity when Emana’s free-kick found him free in the box. He could not keep his header on target though.
But the two would combine again for Mumbai’s and Balwant’s second. Rowllin Borges scuffed an attempted back-pass in the 68th minute, and it allowed Emana to nip in. With an on-rushing Kumar in front of him, the Cameroonian unselfishly squared it for Balwant to score into an empty net.
Three minutes into injury time, Abinash Ruidas shrugged off his marker and came in from the left flank. His shot, however, had the ball hitting the near post and deflected off Kumar’s arm onto the crossbar before being cleared away.
Danilo Lopes had the last chance on target when his shot in the fifth minute of injury time was palmed away by Amrinder. While the Highlanders lost their fourth match of the season, Mumbai City won their third courtesy of the 2-0 score-line and climbed into the top four in the points table.
Club Award: Mumbai City FC
Swift Moment of the Match: Balwant Singh
DHL Winning Pass of the Match: Achille Emana
Amul Fittest Player: Marcinho
Emerging Player: Davinder Singh
Hero of the Match: Gerson Vieira