ISL 2020-21, KBFC vs NEUFC talking points: Refereeing and missed opportunities

ISL 2020: NorthEast United mounted a comeback from being 0-2 down to get a point in the dying minutes of the game against Kerala Blasters.

Idrissa Sylla

NorthEast United FC's Idrissa Sylla (C) celebrates scoring the equaliser against Kerala Blasters FC in the ISL on Thursday.   -  ISL/Sportzpics

NorthEast United (NEUFC) earned a hard-earned point after a 2-2 draw in the match against Kerala Blasters in the Indian Super League (ISL) at the GMC Athletic Stadium in Bambolim on Thursday.

Blasters took a 2-0 lead at the halfway mark of the contest thanks to goals from Sergio Cidoncha and Gary Hooper but NEUFC pegged them back in the second half through Kwesi Appiah and Idrissa Sylla.

Here are the talking points from the game.

KBFC vs NEUFC match report

Squandered opportunities

Both teams could have gone home with all three points if not for the missed opportunities. Before scoring from the penalty, Blasters striker Gary Hooper blazed a side-foot effort over the bar from little over six yards out with only the 'keeper to beat. After halving the deficit, NorthEast's Kwesi Appiah failed to convert his spot kick in the 66th minute to level the scores.

KBFC vs NEUFC - Highlights

Refereeing under the scanner

While the officiating in the ISL has remained controversy-free this season, referee Ranjit Baksi made several contentious decisions over the course of the ninety minutes at the GMC Athletic Stadium. Rakesh Pradhan appeared to nick the ball off Lalthathanga Khawlhring's feet inside the box, but the match official pointed to the spot from which Hooper scored.

In the second half, NorthEast had a shout for a foul inside the Blasters' 18-yard area when Bakary Kone's foot struck the head of Federico Gallego but the foul went in favour of the defending team. Moments later, the referee awarded a penalty to NEUFC for what seemed an innocuous challenge by Jessel Carneiro on Lalengmawia.

READ | ISL 2020-21: Points table, goals scored, goal difference

NEUFC shows attacking potency

NorthEast was the lowest goal-scorers (14) in the division last season as it finished ninth on the back of a 14-game winless run. Early indications suggest, the Highlanders, under Gerard Nus, look a side transformed at both ends of the pitch.

In the first game against Mumbai City FC, it executed its defensive approach with discipline and grit to take home all three points with a 1-0 win. On Thursday, it fell behind to two goals before half-time. It mounted a superb comeback in the second period and was unlucky to end the game with a solitary point. Winger Ninthoinganba Meetei had another stellar outing on the wings, defender Dylan Fox provided aerial strength at both ends of the pitch and the striking options - Appiah and Sylla - have added more options in attack.

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