FULL-TIME: NORTHEAST UNITED 0-0 KERALA BLASTERS
90+3' NorthEast wins a throw-in in the final seconds of the match as Keogh is unable to get on the end of a Chaves cross. Kerala wins back the ball as the referee blows the whistle to indicate full time.
90+2' Substitute Martin Chaves tries to cut in from right flank and pulls down Jessel inside the box. Gning receives a yellow card for a late tackle on Keogh.
90' NorthEast wins a corner in the final seconds of regular time but Gallego's delivery is dealt well by the Kerala defence.
89' Gning threads a pass along the right flank trying to find Rafi out wide but there was a lapse in his judgement and the keeper collects it easily.
87' Ninthoi catches Halicharan as they go after a cross from Zuiverloon. However, the winger looks fine.
85' Rafi hurtles towards the byline chasing a long ball and hits it square from a difficult angle. Subhasish collects the ball comfortably.
83' Mohammed Rafi comes on for Sahal, who has been anonymous in the second half. Kerala wins a throw-in which Ogbeche manages to head it at the near post, but misses the woodwork narrowly.
81' Zuiverloon is brought down by Gallego as the NorthEast captain is booked by the referee. Substitution for Kerala as Seityasen makes way for K.P. Rahul.
79' Keogh gets on the end of a punt from the defence and holds off until the cavalry arrives. He plays it to Ninthoi who is unable to get past Drobarov.
77' That was close! Zuiverloon makes a run down the right flank as he brings down a cross over the backline and goes for the goal but Heerings does well to block the attempt.
75' SHOT! Rakesh whips in a cross from the left which is chested down by Keogh as the forward hits it on the bounce. Bilal is unable to get his gloves to the ball as it comes off his chest. Lalruatthara clears away the ball immediately.
72' MISS! How did that not go in? Ogbeche gets on the end of a long ball from the back and bulldozes towards the near post. Subhasish narrows down the angle as Ogbeche drills a shot into the sidenetting from point-blank range.
69' Rakesh Pradhan clears a cross from Lalrautthara for a Kerala corner. Jessel whips it deep towards Ogbeche who heads it to Zuiverloon who lays it off for Seityasen who blasts it into the stands.
66' Ogbeche is marked closely by two NorthEast players after he drops deep to receive the ball from Seityasen. The forward looks at the referee irritated after he is hauled off the ball.
63' Ninthoi goes down following a high challenge from Drobarov. The winger is back on his feet as Nikhil Kadam gets some strapping around his knee in the meanwhile.
61' Ninthoi races off on the right flank and cuts in. The winger takes a touch more and is hauled off the ball by the Kerala defence. At the other end, Seityasen draws a save from Subhasish with a drive from outside the box.
59' The Kerala defence has opened up in the second half as NorthEast looks for the killer pass. Milan Singh is give a stern warning by the referee for a push on Cidoncha.
57' The referee tells everyone to calm down as he mobbed by red shirts and asks Kerala to set up the wall. Gallego readies himself but clatters his shot into the Yellow wall.
55' Milan Singh goes down outside the box after he trips over Jessel's outstretched leg as the referee awards a free kick to NorthEast.
53' Saved! Cidoncha floats a dangerous ball into the box as Gning receives the ball from Ogbeche as he unleashes a venomous shot from the edge of the box which stings Subhasish's palms.
51' The drums inside the Indira Gandhi Stadium have found their rhythm as the home fans get behind the team. Gallego escapes with a just a warning after he brings down Gning in the centre.
49' SHOT! That is the best NorthEast has looked all night. A slick passing move involving Keogh and Gallego puts Nikhil one-on-one with the goalkeeper, but Bilal makes a low save to keep out the shot.
47' Bilal deflects the Gallego's free kick away for a corner as half-time substitute Nikhil Kadam's delivery is headed clear by Gning.
46' Second half begins. Kerala starts the second period as NorthEast wins a free kick on the left after Seityasen fouls Gallego.
HALF-TIME: NORTHEAST UNITED FC 0-0 KERALA BLASTERS
45+2' Kerala's meditated approach in the build up has yielded in forays into the box but there have not been many good chances created. The ball goes out of play from Zuiverloon's threaded pass from the back as the referee brings an end to the first half.
45' Shot on target! Cidoncha whips a dangerous ball into the box as Gning sends a powerful header which is straight at Subhasish.
43' Zuiverloon slices open the right flank with a superb pass, but Seityasen is a couple of yards short to reach the end of it. Vaz brings down Halicharan on the right side and goes into the referee's book.
41' Close! First good chance for NorthEast. Koegh wins a free kick near the centre as he floats the ball towards Gallego who takes it on the volley as the ball fizzes past the crossbar.
38' Sahal's touch off a Zuiverloon's cross is a tad bit heavy as Komorski clears it away for a corner. Jessel's delivery falls for Komorski and another chance is wasted.
36' Panic in the Kerala box after Vaz's throw in is flicked into Lundevall's path by Ninthoi. Drobarov comes up with a good header to clear the danger.
34' Ogbeche is yellow carded after Heerings Kai trips over the striker's foot. The Kerala skipper is clearly unhappy with the referee's decision.
32' Lalengmawia tries to find Ninthoi lurking at the far post but Bilal reads it well and collects the ball comfortably. The goalkeeper rushes off his line once again to cut out a pass from the right flank.
30' Kerala waste another chance from a corner kick after Zuiverloon is flagged off for a foul on Lalengmawia.
28' The goalkeepers have been rarely troubled despite the frenetic pace of the game. The end product in the final third has been poor at both ends. Halicharan latches on to a failed clearance and lays it off for Sahal just outside the area who hits it over the crossbar.
26' Cidoncha is brought down in the centre by Lalengmawia as the referee lets him go with a warning. Zuiverloon makes the jump to meet the free kick but is blocked by Lalengmawia.
24' Bilal rushes out of the box to clear a stray ball from the back. Provat Lakra, who was struggling because of a niggle, is taken off for Wayne Vaz.
22' Cidoncha curls the free kick towards Drobarov lurking at the far post, but the referee blows his whistle indicating foul play from the Kerala centre-back.
20' Rakesh Pradhan gets a yellow card for a cynical foul on Seityasen as Kerala wins a free kick in a dangerous position.
18' Better from NorthEast. It moves the ball quicker through the centre as Gallego tries a backheel to find Koegh on the edge of the box but Lalruatthara is on to the loose ball and hacks it clear.
16' Jessel takes the corner short as whips in a decent ball at the far post. The ball falls for Seityasen Singh who blasts it over the crossbar.
14' Ogbeche chases a long ball and cuts it into the path of Sahal making the run through the centre. Komorski is in place to head it away for a Kerala corner.
12' Kerala wins back possession after Halicharan gives it away quite easily on the left flank. Ogbeche is clipped by Lalengmawia but the striker looks fine.
10' Lalruatthara comes under pressure from Lundeval and gives away a throw-in. Gallego heads it straight at the goalkeeper from the centre but the flag was up.
8' Lakra fouls Halicharan on the left as the referee awards a free kick for Kerala in a dangerous area. Cidoncha stands over the set-piece but Halicharan takes it and slices it low. The home team has no problems in dealing with it.
6' Ogbeche shields the ball from his marker inside the box and tries to lay it off for Sahal but the pass was a bit quicker than expected and NorthEast clears the danger.
4' Lalruatthara battles Keogh on the right after he is played on by Lundeval. The referee awards a foul in favour of Kerala. It has been a pin-ball between ends in the opening few minutes.
2' Ninthoi brings down a cross-field ball on the right and shrugs off his marker at the near post. The winger flashes a ball across the goalmouth but his cross has too much weight behind it and Kerala gets a goalkick.
1' Here we go! NorthEast United begins the proceedings from left to right. Ogbeche wins the ball outside the area but the host regains possession.
The players are out on the pitch for the Indian national anthem. Few more minutes to go..
Mathematically, NorthEast United FC can still make it to the Indian Super League (ISL) play-offs but will need to do too much in the remaining games, starting with a win against Kerala Blasters FC at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati on Friday.
NorthEast United has 11 points from 13 games and is ninth on the table. It can still make it to the top four, if it wins all its remaining five matches. But for a side which has won just two games so far, winning five in a row could be a difficult ask. That may still not be enough as it will need teams above it to drop points as well.
Last year’s semifinalist, NorthEast has been pegged back by the premature exit of Ghanaian star Asamoah Gyan from the competition due to an injury. Since his exit, it hasn’t scored a single goal in its last four matches.
“We had a lot of problems with strikers. We did not have a second striker. Maximilian (Barreiro) left. After that Asamoah had to leave due to serious injury and also Pana (Panagiotis Triadis). In those four games in a row, we played really well but couldn’t score. That is the only problem we have,” said NorthEast coach Robert Jarni.
Jarni may be tempted to think what might have been his team's scenario now had last year’s top-scorer Bartholomew Ogbeche continued with them. The Nigerian striker helped the Highlanders make it to its first-ever ISL play-off last season. However, he parted ways with the club in the summer to join Kerala Blasters along with Dutch coach Eelco Schattorie.
Ogbeche has been in prolific form with 11 goals for the Kochi-based side and has also netted seven in the last five outings. Such has been the impact of Ogbeche’s departure from NorthEast that the striker has more goals to his name this season than what the Highlanders have collectively scored.
Neither Ogbeche nor Schattorie – who coached NorthEast last season -- has had any cause to celebrate at Kerala. The former finalist was within a fighting chance of making it to the top-four but those hopes evaporated after it was grounded by Chennaiyin FC 6-3. Kerala has now conceded 12 goals in its last three matches, including six at home during the last game.
"That (vs Chennaiyin) was not a complete defensive failure. It was more individual errors, we all know what happened. Till 38th minute, match was dominated by us. If you commit such mistakes, we need to address them. We did our work on that and we have to cut down those individual errors which can cost you games," said Kerala Blasters assistant coach Ishfaq Ahmed.
Schattorie will continue to be suspended for the clash against NorthEast United. However, there is some good news for Kerala as Moustapha Gning and Vlatko Drobarov are back in contention for a start after serving their suspension.
The match can be viewed live on Star Sports 2 and 2 HD from 7.30 pm and will be streamed live on Hotstar app.
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