Dos Santos and Mulder consign Highlanders to the cellar

Hans Mulder
Delhi Dynamos FC players congratulate each other after a hard-earned victory.

Delhi Dynamos FC revived their hopes of a place in the top four by beating NorthEast United FC 2-1 in a vital tenth round clash of the Hero Indian Super League on Monday night. Gustavo Dos Santos and Hans Mulder scored two early goals for the visitors while Kondwani Mtonga pulled one back late for the home side at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati.

The win takes Delhi to 10 points and seventh on the table and condemns NorthEast United, also on 10, to the bottom, based on lesser number of goals scored with the goal difference being the same (-2).

Delhi were on the front foot in the 6th minute itself when Francis Fernandes played the ball to Dos Santos who passed two players before dispatching a thunderous left footed strike onto the bottom of the crossbar and into the net.

The Dynamos kept the momentum with Dos Santos looking dangerous every time he got the ball. But just five minutes later a terrible back pass by defender Henrique Dinis to his goalkeeper left Koke in a one-on-one position with Kristof Van Hout.  The Spaniard rounded the Delhi gloveman but could not squeeze the ball in and it went out after striking the near post.

Dos Santos
Standout performers: NorthEast’s Koke (L) chases down Delhi’s Dos Santos.

In the 14th minute Delhi doubled their lead. A loose ball at the back fell to Dos Santos who lifted it to Mulder. The visiting captain controlled beautifully before turning his marker for dead and shooting past Rehenesh TP into the far corner. NorthEast were the more attacking side thereafter, looking for the goal that would bring them back into the game, but they could not score despite creating many chances. They were given a boost when Delhi were reduced to ten men in the dying minutes of the half. Souvik Chakraborty was shown a second yellow after pulling back Isaac Chansa.

The home team took full advantage of their numerical superiority in the second half, and began attacking the Delhi citadel. As in the first half, however, they couldn't take their chances, despite dominating possession and fashioning numerous opportunities to score. They finally got their breakthrough in the 80th minute from a corner whipped in by Koke, which was headed in by Mtonga for his second goal of the tournament.

With ten minutes to go, it was really end to end football with both teams getting into great goal scoring positions. Koke fluffed a couple of chances, and Delhi could have buried the game with a late goal themselves. There was a late twist, as well, as the Highlanders’ Aiborlang Khongjee was shown a second yellow late in the game to even out the numbers. The Dynamos took that as a sign to attack, and forced Rehenesh into three quick saves, while at the other end NorthEast also pushed for an equaliser to complete the comeback, but ultimately the score stayed 2-1 in favour of the visitors.

Delhi Dynamos host Mumbai City on November 28 as they look to get their campaign back on track while NorthEast United have a tough outing against league leaders Chennaiyin at home on November 27.

Match awards:

Hero of the Match:  Gustavo dos Santos (Delhi Dynamos FC)

Swift Moment of the Match:  Gustavo dos Santos (Watch here)

Amul Fittest Player of the Match: Hans Mulder (Delhi Dynamos FC) (Watch here)

ISL Emerging Player of the Match: Francis Fernandes (Delhi Dynamos FC) 

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