Goals from Parthib Gogoi, Phalguni Singh and Asheer Akhtar sealed the deal for NorthEast United FC as they beat Chennaiyin FC at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati on Friday.

The visitors were the better of the two sides in the early exchanges as they dominated the possession and created more chances. Somehow a shaky NorthEast United FC’s defence stood tall against multiple attacks by Chennaiyin FC in the opening minutes. There were opportunities for Connor Shields and Farukh Choudhary to give Marina Machans the lead but the finishing of the two players left coach Owen Coyle disappointed.

As the minutes passed by, the Highlanders grew in the game and started to catch Chennaiyin FC’s defence by surprise. Close to 30 minutes into the game, NorthEast United FC failed to capitalize as a beautiful 1-2 between Néstor Albiach and Parthib Gogoi helped the team to penetrate Chennaiyin FC’s box. But as Gogoi pulled the trigger the shot was blocked by Cristian Battocchio.

Five minutes from half-time Choudhary missed yet another chance to convert as the Marina Machans started to slack off. No sooner had Choudhary missed the chance, than NorthEast United FC carried the ball to the other end of the pitch. 

Romain Philippoteaux found an unmarked Gogoi who unleashed a thunderbolt from outside the box in the 42nd minute. The shot was so perfectly timed and placed that a fully stretched Samik Mitra had zero chance of stopping the ball.

NorthEast United FC doubled their lead three minutes into the second half as a brilliant solo run followed by a defence-splitting pass from Míchel Zabaco found Albiach waiting in the wings. With the ball at his feet, Albiach laid an inch-perfect pass for a rushing Phalguni Singh and Singh had no problem putting the ball in the back of the net.

The pressure of trailing by two goals started to show on Chennaiyin FC as Coyle was forced to make two substitutions soon after Singh’s goal. Off went Choudhary and Lazar Ćirković in favour of Irfan Yadwad and Ryan Edwards respectively. There were more changes made by Owen as just after one hour mark Alexander Romario Jesuraj and Ayush Adhikari were withdrawn to bring in Ankit Mukherjee and Jiteshwor Singh.

Despite the changes, Chennaiyin FC failed to create chances. There was more trouble for the team from the South as Mitra was spotted constantly holding his left hamstring. Chennaiyin FC’s best chance to score in the second half arrived when Ninthoinganba Meetei made use of his pace to pierce NorthEast’s backline but Mirshad Michu spread his arms and legs wide and made himself large enough to block the shot.

Two goals up, the Highlanders were clinical in game management as they kept possession of the ball and made timely changes to run the clock down. Chennaiyin FC could barely create any more chances in the match. Such was the visitor’s plight that Mukherjee had to fulfil the goalkeeping duties in the dying minutes of the match as an injured Mitra was taken off the field. With an outfielder in between the sticks, defender Asheer Akhtar blasted a long ranger to score NorthEast’s third goal in the first minute of the injury time.

Statically speaking Chennaiyin FC were the better of the two sides as it had 11 shots on target to NEUFC's 10. A 54% possession and 354 passes to NorthEast United FC’s 311 also showed that Chennaiyin FC dominated the play in the outfield. But it was NorthEast United who capitalized on the moments that mattered!

With three goals, NorthEast United FC arrested its four-match losing streak against Chennaiyin FC and walked away with all three points.

Key Performer of the Match

Néstor Albiach was the most vital player in NorthEast United FC’s thumping win over Chennaiyin FC. His energetic runs from the wide areas and assist for Phalguni Singh proved decisive in settling the fate of the match.

What’s next for both teams?

For matchday 3, NorthEast United FC will visit ISL newcomers Punjab FC on October 6. Chennaiyin FC will have to dust itself off and seek home comfort at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium where it will host Mohun Bagan Super Giant on October 7.

For more information, visit our match centre: https://www.indiansuperleague.com/matchcentre/59422