ISL 2020-21: Unbeaten NorthEast moves second with win over East Bengal

ISL 2020: NorthEast United FC defeated SC East Bengal 2-0 in a 2020-21 Indian Super League outing at the Tilak Maidan in Vasco, Goa, on Saturday.

NorthEast United players celebrate one of the two goals scored against East Bengal in the ISL on Saturday.

Three matches, three defeats, zero goals scored, seven goals conceded and rooted to the bottom of the table. Robbie Fowler’s SC East Bengal suffered another loss while an unbeaten-NorthEast United (NEUFC) moved to second in the Indian Super League (ISL) with a 2-0 win at Tilak Maidan in Vasco, Goa on Saturday.

Borrowing the words from Fowler, East Bengal's display was again a "work in progress, offering glimpses of what it can do, while trying to play football the right way." However, the manner of the defeat and the goals conceded highlighted East Bengal’s struggles and its limitations. It dominated possession (57 per cent) by flooding its men forward, struggled to find the penetrative pass into the final third before getting picked on the counter.

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MATCH BLOG | ISL 2020-21 highlights: NorthEast United FC beats SC East Bengal 2-0

NEUFC head coach Gerard Nus has adopted his approach to the strength of his personnel: disciplined and organised in defence and break forward to exploit the space left behind by the opposition. In this context, Winger Ninthoinganba Meetei was incisive with his direct running and delivered dangerous crosses into the box.

For the majority of the first 30 minutes, East Bengal pinned NEUFC into its own half without much success. But right after the water break, Narayan Das conceded possession from which a long ball was knocked down into space on the right for Kwesi Appiah, who fired a fierce cross. The ball struck an unsighted Surchandra Singh, who was marking Idrissa Sylla, and rolled into the goal, catching East Bengal’s defence flat-footed.

Ninthoinganba Meetei put in a strong performance troubling East Bengal down the right flank - ISL/Sportzpics

 

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East Bengal would have felt hard done by when a couple of genuine penalty shouts didn’t go its way. Ashutosh Mehta brought down Jacques Maghoma inside the box in the 19th minute and an Anthony Pilkington shot struck the arm of Mashoor Shereef from close range at the hour mark.

Fowler rang in multiple changes in the second period, bring in C. K. Vineeth, Abhishek Ambekar, Mohammed Rafique, Eugeneson Lyngdoh, but his replacements couldn’t break down a sturdy NorhEast defence.

Even as East Bengal kept pushing high up the pitch for the equaliser, it was NEUFC’s substitutes, who combined to deliver the killer blow in the 90th minute. V. P. Suhair, who was released down the right flank, delivered an inviting ball across the face of the goal for Rochharzela to slot it past ‘keeper Debjit Majumder.

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