NorthEast United FC reach semi-finals after beating Kerala Blasters FC
NorthEast United FC qualified for the semi-finals of Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2020-21 after a 2-0 win against Kerala Blasters FC at the Tilak Maidan Stadium in Vasco on Friday. Suhair Vadakkepeedika opened the scoring for the Highlanders in the 34th minute and Lalengmawia doubled their lead just before the halftime whistle.
- Goals from Suhair Vadakkepeedika and Lalengmawia in the first half gave the Highlanders a comfortable lead at the break.
- Neither side managed to score in the second half as NorthEast United FC booked their spot in the semi-finals.
Both sides could have had an early lead had they managed to keep their efforts on target. NorthEast United FC had a glorious chance to go ahead when a cross from the right found a free Dylan Fox at the far post. The Australian defender though couldn’t keep his effort on target to the dismay of his teammates.
Kerala Blasters FC went up the other end in the 7th minute and almost took the lead themselves when Bakary Kone put a free header off a corner from inside the six-yard box wide of the target. The Highlanders soon settled in and began dominating possession without doing much with the ball.
However, Khalid Jamil’s men made the most of their first chance after the half hour mark when Khassa Camara produced a magnificent ball to put Suhair in on goal. Suhair then went on to round the goalkeeper and thrash the ball into the net to make it 1-0 for the Highlanders.
NorthEast United FC grew in confidence after taking the lead and finished the half strongly. They doubled their lead in first half stoppage time after Lalengmawia came up with an absolute belter of a strike from range that clipped the underside of the crossbar on its way into goal and made it 2-0 for the Highlanders at the break.
Kerala Blasters FC had a chance to halve the deficit six minutes into the second period when a cross from the right into the penalty area wasn’t cleared properly and went to Rahul KP on the edge of the box. Rahul controlled the ball, but his shot failed to test the goalkeeper.
NorthEast United FC responded with a Luis Machado shot from inside the box that was saved by the goalkeeper in the 56th minute. Deshorn Brown then struck the woodwork moments later when the Jamaican striker picked the ball up on the left and surged into the box before cutting onto his right foot and firing his attempt.
The Blasters tried to force their way back into the contest, but the Highlanders’ game management was spot on as the southerners struggled to get going. NorthEast United FC could have scored a third in the 85th minute when the Jamaican beat the goalkeeper to a ball and rounded him before finding the side-netting. However, his miss didn’t count for much as the Highlanders saw out the remainder of the match comfortably to secure the three points and qualify for the semi-finals. They became the third team to do so after Mumbai City FC and ATK Mohun Bagan. The FC Goa-Hyderabad FC game on Sunday will decide the fourth semi-finalists.
Hero of the Match – Lalengmawia
Lalengmawia had another magnificent all-round performance while sitting in the middle of the park for NorthEast United FC. He had 73 touches of the ball, an impressive passing accuracy of 88% and scored a stunning goal from distance in the first half to double the Highlanders’ lead.
Other Match Awards:
Club Award – NorthEast United FC
DHL Winning Pass of the Match – Khassa Camara (NorthEast United FC)
Watch the Match Highlights here: