Simao and Velez hand the Highlanders their first win of the season
NorthEast United FC secured their first win of Hero Indian Super League (ISL) Season 2 after late strikes from substitutes Simao Sabrosa and Nicolas Velez against Chennaiyin FC at Guwahati’s Indira Gandhi Stadium on Tuesday evening.
The Highlanders’ marquee player Simao scored towards the end of the game before Velez made it 2-0 in added time of a dramatic encounter that saw two penalties and a red card.
The game got off to a hundred-mile-an-hour start with NorthEast United FC’s Francis Dadzie almost giving his side the lead within 15 seconds of the start. Fikru Teferra nearly gave Chennaiyin FC the lead a minute later, but his chip from outside the box was just off target. Both sides had announced their intentions.
Dadzie had another go at goal on the sixth-minute mark. His effort though failed to trouble NorthEast’s goalkeeper. Chennai wouldn’t lake things lying down, Harmanjot Khabra responded with a shot of his own four minutes later.
The home side should have taken the lead with their next attack but Diomansy Kamara unfortunately failed to convert a low cross from the left. The game settled down a little as it approached the half-hour mark, but it was NorthEast in the ascendancy.
Backed by rapturous home support, the Highlanders saw more of the ball and kept probing the Chennaiyin goal. The visitors were made to wait till the 37th minute for their next effort on goal when Manuele Blasi took a long range shot that found its way into the hands of the keeper.
The Highlanders were given a penalty a minute later when the referee punished Alessandro Potenza for bringing down Cedric Hengbart inside the box. Chennai’s keeper, however, bailed his side out of jail. It was Apoula Edel’s second penalty save of Hero ISL 2015. Chennai’s joy though was short-lived as Khabra was sent off by the referee for remonstrating with the match official after his keeper had saved from the spot.
The second half took some time to get going with the first chance falling Chennai’s way after Fikru blazed over the bar from a Chennaiyin FC counter-attack. NorthEast United FC head coach Cesar Farias didn’t wait for much longer and introduced Nicolas Velez for Kamara eight minutes into the second period. Sanju Pradhan replaced Hali Charan Narzary moments later as Farias looked to make their man-advantage count.
Boithang Haokip had NorthEast’s first big chance of the half after being played in by Dadzie. The 24-year-old shot wide however. The home-side started controlling proceedings with Chennai falling deeper into their own half while dealing with waves of attacks from NorthEast.
Farias made his final change of the match with 74 minutes on the clock, bringing on NorthEast’s marquee man Simao, his first appearance this season. The Portuguese came on to a standing ovation from 19,272 passionate fans who had filled up the stadium. And it could have been instant impact from Simao had he converted his left-footed volley four minutes from time.
Sanju Pradhan came close to breaking the deadlock a couple minutes later but his shot was just wide. The final chance for NorthEast United FC came courtesy of their second penalty of the match. This time Jayesh Rane was the guilty party.
Cometh the hour, cometh the man. Simao stepped up in confident fashion and converted comfortably with 90 minutes done and dusted to show the hosts exactly what they had been missing due to his unfortunate injury. NorthEast United FC put the game to bed deep into additional time with composed finish by Velez after a free flowing counter to give NorthEast United FC their first win of Hero ISL 2015.
Club Award: NorthEast United FC
Swift Moment of the Match: Simao (NorthEast United FC) (Watch here)
Amul Fittest Player of the Match: Jayesh Rane (Chennaiyin FC)
ISL Emerging Player of the Match: Boithang Haokip (NorthEast United FC)
Hero of the Match: Apoula Edel (Chennaiyin FC) (Watch here)