Schattorie credits team’s spirit for win over Kerala

NorthEast United FC left it really late against Kerala Blasters FC tonight. The Highlanders came from behind to score two stoppage-time goals and beat Kerala 2-1 at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati. Matej Poplatnik’s 73rd-minute header looked to have won it for the Blasters, but quickfire goals from Bartholomew Ogbeche and Juan Mascia deep into extra-time saw the Highlanders walk away with all three points.

Speaking at the post-match press conference, NorthEast head coach Eelco Schattorie declared that he was pleased with his players’ determination and spirit to see through the difficult match. "First-half, I think we played well. We should have scored at least two goals in my opinion. I think if we had scored in the first-half, maybe we would have scored more. I could see they were not really that compact. And then the fear kicks in if you don’t score after getting that many chances," he said.

"Actually, in the first-half, the tactic that we planned worked pretty well. The second-half, we started dropping a bit. Bartholomew Ogbeche didn’t train for four-five days. You could see he was working very hard but was lacking sharpness. We were not really wanting the ball anymore. They scored from a set-piece and that was painful. But the good thing was the spirit of the team, we kept pushing until the end. I’m very happy for Juan Mascia. Till now he didn’t play much. But in the end, he was the cause of the penalty and scored the goal. I think it was a deserved win. I’m happy that we give the supporters a home win," he added.

The Dutchman went on to reveal how he asked Ogbeche to make some last-minute adjustments to his pressing patterns to counter Kerala's tactics of playing three at the back. "As I said before, it's very unpredictable. But then I spoke to Bart before we started that we need to adjust a little bit. That means to not to go for the press right away because you have to stay a bit more compact. But again, you never know how players react to that because this is a last moment decision," he said.

Read the match report here.

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