Two teams desperate to win ended up splitting points as NorthEast United FC (NEUFC) drew 1-1 with Delhi Dynamos at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Tuesday. It was an impressive performance from the visitors who recovered from the 5-1 thrashing at Mumbai in their previous match, even though Delhi would be ruing their missed chances and the opportunity to go to the top of the table. The draw kept Dynamos in the second spot behind Pune City FC, level on points (13) but trailing on goal difference.
Ghanaian striker Richard Gadze put the hosts ahead with a calm finish in the 37th minute. However, NEUFC got back on level terms through a free-kick from Simao Sabrosa, who came off the bench in the 72nd minute. The equaliser was the former Portuguese international's first touch of the game.
The match started half-an-hour behind the schedule owing to a power failure and was played under back-up lights. Captain-manager Roberto Carlos had warned his team not to be complacent, and NEUFC pounced straight away after the kick-off. Francis Dadzie, Diomansy Kamara and Sanju Pradhan — three of the five players who came into the team after missing the Mumbai match — impressed with their attacking play but failed to find a breakthrough. John Arne Riise and Anas Edothedika marshalled the defence efficiently, while goalkeeper Toni Doblas made some crucial interceptions.
A free-kick in the 15th minute gave Delhi some breathing space, but Roberto Carlos’s weak, grounded shot could not get past the wall. Gadze could not direct his shot seven minutes later and hit it straight at NEUFC goalkeeper Rehenesh, as Delhi gradually found their stride.
Doblas was again in the spotlight when he blocked two consecutive shots in the 35th minute — Sanju hit from close to the half-line and a rare defensive lapse saw the rebound fall to Dadzie, who again hit it straight at the keeper — while a third shot from Kamara went wide to the left, much to Dynamos’ relief. In a quick counter attack, Florent Malouda picked up the ball and threaded it through to Gadze, who shot past an out-rushing Rehenesh to put Dynamos ahead in the 37th minute.
Encouraged by the lead, Delhi began strongly in the second half. A pile-driver from Riise in the 50th minute off a free kick — after Robin Singh was pushed down by Carlos Lopez — saw the ball race through the wall but Rehenesh managed to hang on to it.
NEUFC did not let up though and continued to create chances at the other end. Mulder’s push on Kamara just outside the box was judged as a foul by the referee and Simao, having come on for Silas just then, marked his presence with a curling free-kick that gave Doblas no chance. The teams continued to search for a winner, but with the defence pulling down the shutters, a draw was the only possible outcome.
The result: Delhi Dynamos 1 (Gadze 37) drew with NEUFC 1 (Simao 72).
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