NorthEast United FC rally to hold Mumbai City FC in a pulsating draw

NorthEast United FC produced a spirited second-half performance to hold Mumbai City FC to a 1-1 draw in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) at the PJN stadium in Margao, Goa on Tuesday.

Ahmed Jahouh (30’ (P)) put Mumbai City FC in front in the first half but Mohamed Irshad (79’) equalised eleven minutes from time to earn a deserved point forNorthEast United FC.

Mumbai City FC made a strong start to the game, controlling possession and dictating the tempo of the match and created the first opening of the match in the 13th minute when Vikram Pratap Singh sent a looping header from a Mehtab Singh long ball over the goal after making a darting run between the two NorthEast United FC centre-backs.

The young striker went close again three minutes later when he tried to flick a delivery from a Jahouh free-kick on target only to see it go wide.

The Islanders then forced a brilliant save from Subhasish Roy Chowdhury as Jahouh’s free-kick found Mourtada Fall at the far post. But the centre-back’s header from close range was palmed away by the Highlanders goalkeeper in the 18th minute.

Vikram Singh who was proving to be a real menace for the NorthEast United FC backline then won the penalty for his team in the 28th minute even though the replays showed that it was probably a foul in the other direction.

Jahouh though stepped up and converted the spot kick emphatically to put Mumbai City FC in front on the half-hour mark.

The Islanders almost doubled their lead two minutes later when Cassio Gabriel made a dazzling run into the box from the left side leaving multiple defenders for dead. His shot which was swirling in its path was pushed away to safety by Roy Chowdhury in the NorthEast United FC goal.

Mumbai City FC passed up another great opportunity to add a second goal before the break when Brad Inmad who was played in on goal thanks to a brilliant through ball from Gabriel failed to keep his effort on target with the goalkeeper at his mercy.

Mumbai City FC went into the interval with their noses in front but knowing that they could have had a much bigger lead.

However, NorthEast United FC came out a totally different team in the second half and had a chance to equalise in the 49th minute when Gurjinder Kumar sent a header that was just off target.

The Highlanders were unlucky not to equalise when Suhair VP’s floated effort in the 56th minute came off the upright only for an alert Mumbai City FC defender to clear the rebound before it reached another NorthEast United FC shirt.

Khalid Jamil’s side were denied by the same post two minutes later when Marcelinho who was put through on goal did well to use his strength, shrug off a retreating defender, turn and then shoot but to his misfortune the effort hit the post and went out.

In the 66th minute, Mohammed Nawaz had to be alert as Hernan Santana’s free-kick from a long way out was hit with venom and seemed destined for the target but the goalkeeper dived low to his left to palm it away and preserve Mumbai City FC’s advantage.

Marcelinho then saw his header from a cross go just wide in the 75th minute but the Highlanders didn’t have to wait long to get a just reward for their efforts in the second half.

Mumbai City FC only partially cleared a corner allowing it to fall to a NorthEast United FC player on the edge of the box. The player instead of shooting laid it off for substitute Irshad who was in space on the left-hand side and did well to bend his finish into the side netting and restore parity for NorthEast United FC.

Roy Chowdhury then produced an absolute blinder to preserve the point for NorthEast United FC when he saved from Gabriel from point-blank range after the Mumbai City FC forward had been fed with an inch-perfect cross from the right flank four minutes from time.

The custodian was called into action again just a minute later when he palmed away Pranjal Bhumij’s effort.

Mumbai City FC were then reduced to ten men when Amey Ranawade was sent off for a second bookable offence but NorthEast United FC had little time to capitalise on the numerical advantage as the two teams shared the points.

The draw sends Mumbai City FC back into the top four just ahead of Chennaiyin FC on goal difference. The point lifts NorthEast United FC off the bottom of the table as they leapfrog SC East Bengal in tenth position.

The Islanders face ATK Mohun Bagan in a crunch game next time out on February 3. The Highlanders take on Kerala Blasters FC a day later.

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