Bengaluru FC secured a 1-1 draw against NorthEast United FC at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati in the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 on Sunday.

There is nothing more motivating than a dedicated base of supporters always having a team’s back, especially when they hit a low phase.

“I have been passionate about this club. We have seen lots of ups and downs, but it’s been a beautiful journey. Football is nothing without its fans and we are thankful to our fans for sticking by us, because that means a lot, because you do this to entertain them,” NorthEast United FC owner John Abraham had said earlier this season.

The Highlanders had rounded off the previous campaign with only a single win in 20 games, and this time around they have already bagged two victories and a draw in their four home fixtures until now. Capitalising on the generous reassurance of their fans, they came from behind to snatch a point against the last season’s runners-up.

Sunil Chhetri is a figure that transcends club boundaries in Indian football, and the people gathered in the stadium in Guwahati tonight arguably would have wanted the Indian national team skipper to demonstrate some of his heroics.

Chhetri answered their call by pouncing upon a spot-kick and converting the same into a goal in the 36th minute. Goalkeeper Mirshad Michu was at fault for handing the penalty to the visitors, and the talismanic forward donning the skipper’s hat for Bengaluru FC was never going to miss out on this opportunity.

Unfortunately for his team, Aleksandar Jovanovic ended up netting past Gurpreet Singh Sandhu to neutralise the effort of his captain three minutes into the added time of the first half. The 34-year-old Australian has been solid at the back so far this season but this gave NorthEast United a chance to pull their way back in the game.

They came across a fantastic chance to get a lead courtesy of Parthib Gogoi in the 81st minute. However, the 20-year-old took a heavy touch inside the box and Sandhu was prompt enough to dive, outstretch, and collect the ball before Gogoi could unleash a shot past the custodian.

Key Performer of the Match

Sunil Chhetri (Bengaluru FC)

The 39-year-old was on mark from the spot, in addition to making a tackle, clearance, and a cross each whilst maintaining a 73% passing accuracy. He proactively participated in the build-up play and assumed responsibility at a very appropriate moment to put Bengaluru FC ahead nine minutes before the half-time whistle.

What’s next for both teams?

Bengaluru FC will next be hosting Punjab FC on November 30, whereas NorthEast United FC will be squaring off against East Bengal FC at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata on December 4.

Brief Scores

NorthEast United FC 1 (Aleksandar Jovanović OG 45+3’) – 1 (Sunil Chhetri 36’) Bengaluru FC

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