NorthEast United FC dent Bengaluru FC’s semi-final hopes with a comeback win

NorthEast United FC snapped their long winless run as they beat Bengaluru FC 2-1 in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) match at the PJN stadium in Margao, Goa on Friday to damage the Blues' hopes of reaching the semi-finals.

The win also lifted the Highlanders off the foot of the table.

After a goalless first half, Cleiton Silva (66’) broke the deadlock to put Marco Pezzaiuoli’s men in front but the Highlanders stormed back with goals from Deshorn Brown (74’) and Laldanmawia Ralte (80’) to take full three points.

Bengaluru FC made all the early running in the game as they bossed possession and created a few openings through clever combination play but it wasn’t enough to open up a stubborn NorthEast United FC rearguard.

The Highlanders though created the first big chance of the match in the 22nd minute, when Joe Zoherliana sent an inch-perfect cross for Imran Khan but he couldn’t keep his header on target.

A minute later, Brown struck the crossbar as the Highlanders suddenly sprung into life and should have had their noses in front.

The chances kept coming for NorthEast United FC and Bengaluru FC goalkeeper Lara Sharma had to be alert to the danger as he palmed away a fiercely struck Hernan Santana shot in the 27th minute.

Wungngayam Muirang came on for Parag Shrivas for the Blues who had a great chance to take the lead in the 32nd minute when Namgyal Bhutia found Silva inside the box but his first-time shot was straight at the goalkeeper.

Neither team could break the deadlock as the teams went in at the interval at 0-0.

Bengaluru FC had Sharma to thank for preventing NorthEast United FC from taking the lead as he made a top save from a Suhair VP header two minutes from restart.

Chhetri then had his effort saved at the other end, ten minutes later when the Bengaluru FC captain combined well with Udanta Singh to get in a one-on-one position but Mirshad Michu denied him with a top save.

The Blues eventually got on the scoresheet in the 66th minute when Silva who made a clever run at the near post put in a Danish Farooq cross to make it 1-0.

NorthEast United FC threw on Marcelinho to rescue the match and the Highlanders were level eight minutes later when Brown headed home a pinpoint cross from Zoherliana.

Marcelinho then showed his class as he danced past Bengaluru FC defenders in a tight space to set up Laldanmawia to tapped home from close range to complete the comeback.

The Highlanders then had to deal with seven minutes of stoppage time but they almost added another goal when Brown went clear on goal only to blaze it over.

Khalid Jamil’s men though held on to finally record a victory.

The defeat was a bitter blow for Bengaluru FC’s chances of making it to the semi-finals as they stayed sixth three points behind fourth-placed Kerala Blasters FC despite having played two matches more.

The Blues next face Odisha FC on Monday while NorthEast united FC take on Jamshedpur FC on Friday.

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