NorthEast United FC severely dented Bengaluru FC’s chances of a top-four finish with a 2-1 victory at the Fatorda Stadium on Friday.
The fleet-footed Marcelinho, a January signing for NEUFC coach Khalid Jamil, burst through the BFC defence on 80 minutes and fired in a low shot, to which goalie Lara Sharma got a touch. It was turned in at the far post by Laldanmawia Ralte for the winner.
In the 66th minute, Cleiton Silva had put BFC ahead, slotting home a fine low cross from the left by Danish Farooq. But eight minutes later, Deshorn Brown, formerly of BFC, outjumped defender Yaya Banana to head in a cross from Joe Zoherliana into the top-left corner.
The win lifted NEUFC from the bottom of the table into 10th position (13 points) above SC East Bengal. For BFC, it was a second straight defeat and leaves Marco Pezzaiuoli’s men sixth on 23 points from 17 matches. With every team above having at least a game in hand, it will be incredibly difficult for BFC to earn a semifinal place.
When the match started, it was BFC that led the possession stats. But the first real chance fell to NEUFC in the 22nd minute when midfielder Imran Khan sent a clear header wide. A minute later, Brown hit the crossbar after receiving a fine pass from VP Suhair.
Just before the half-hour mark, centre-back Hernan Santana, forever eager to occupy attacking positions, shot just wide from outside the box.
BFC had an opportunity immediately after the cooling break. Namgyal Bhutia’s marauding run from right-back position ended with him laying a perfectly weighted ball for Silva, only for the Brazilian to hit a weak shot straight at the goalie Mirshad Michu.
After the break, Sunil Chhetri missed a gilt-edged chance, a one-on-one which he would have buried in his sleep, but saved on the day by Michu’s right leg. When Silva scored, it seemed like BFC had taken control, but it was not to be.
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