Delhi Dynamos hosted NorthEast United FC in Delhi for their round five Indian Super League match. Delhi has had the worst ISL start in their ISL history after failing to win even a single game after four games. Their opponents NorthEast United FC have their best start to the season in ISL history. NorthEast came into the game being unbeaten in the ISL, and they wanted to remain unbeaten for as long as possible.
The match started with both the teams trying to get an early goal, but NorthEast United FC quickly took charge of the game and dominated most parts of the first. They hit the crossbar once and forced Delhi to make two goal-line clearances. Delhi had a few chances to take the lead too. The first half ended with the scoreboard reading nil-nil.
The second half started with Delhi trying to get back into the game, and they did have few chances, but NorthEast finally broke the deadlock in the 82nd minute through a Gallego striker. French-Nigerian striker Barth Ogbeche made it 2-0 in the 93rd minute to seal the victory for NorthEast United FC and take them top of the league table.
On that note, let's take a look at the five talking points from today's game
#5 Referee robs NorthEast off a penalty, poor refereeing in general
Bart Ogbeche ran into the box from a Reagan Singh long ball, beat Crispi easily but was bought down clearly by Crispi with a full body tackle but the referee waved play on. The commentators, players, team officials, and fans were all surprised by the decision dished out by the referee. It was probably the easiest decision the referee the had to make all evening, and still, the referee managed to make the wrong choice.
If one is to judge the decisions made by the referee in today's game, the referee would be on the receiving end of an abysmal score.
During the first half, it looked like the referee had forgotten his cards in the dressing room.
Delhi on the hand other can argue that a fair share of fifty-fifty decisions went against them.
Given the nature of the game and league, a few poor referee decisions going against any team can decide the fate of the match and also go a long way in determining where the team finishes at the end of the league.
If a league like ISL wants to improve the quality of football in India, then they need to take notice of the referee errors and try to minimalise the human errors.
#4 Delhi Defence and butterfingers are synonymous to each other
NorthEast United FC's attack ran through the Delhi Dynamos like a hot knife through butter. In the initial 15 minutes of the game 'The Highlanders' could have taken a three-goal lead had it not been for the crossbar and some excellent saves by the Delhi goalkeeper Francisco Dorronsoro.
The final nail in the coffin that NEUFC put in was also due to a big blunder by the Delhi Dynamos captain Pritam Kotal.
The Delhi defence, in general, looked at sixes and sevens while defending against Ogbeche, Gallego and Mascia.
It looked like the defence wasn't prepared to deal with someone with the physical presence of Mascia.
Given most of Delhi's foreign recruits in the playing eleven are defenders or defensive minded players it is more surprising to see the state of the defence for the team from the capital.
While Delhi is famous for its forts, its defence is something far away from being called a fort or wall.
#3 Frowns of worry even in Victory for Eelco Schattorie
Eelco Schattorie's men fought hard till the end to snatch a hard-fought yet a deserving victory for Northeast United FC. The Dutch gaffer of Northeast United FC would have a lot to worry about especially in defence given his replacement for Mislav and only experienced Indian centre back Gurwinder Singh left the game limping off in the first half. With no other stable CentreBack present in the team Eelco might have to get down on the drawing board and chalk out a different strategy regarding his defence.
Another reason to worry about for Eelco is the performance of his goalkeeper. Rehenesh, the first choice keeper, will be available for selection in the next game but the Kerala born keeper has been way below par this season. His replacement Pawan Kumar had the stars to thank for saving his Clean sheet today even after the terrible mistakes he committed under the bar.
Eelco would need to sort out these two problems before his side faces Mumbai in the next game.
#2 The Ogbeche-Gallego story
ISL has provided a lot of stories of partnerships and pairs who go all the way and win the hearts of millions in the country irrespective of the team they play for. Be it Mendoza- Jeje pairing of season two, the Postiga-Hume story of season three or the Miku-Chhetri brotherhood of last season, the country loved them.
This season a similar story seems to be brewing up in the hills of NorthEast with Barth Ogbeche and Federico Gallego, leading the Highlanders into their best ISL start ever in ISL history.
Ogbeche already has scored six goals in five game and has become the highest ever goalscorer in NorthEast United FC history in a single season, and we are not even halfway through the season.
Gallego is the 'Chanakya' if one may call him off this team. He leads and dictates the play in the middle and is as cunning as Chanakya in running things. The goal he scored today is proof of his guile as he dropped his shoulder and showed Marcos Tebar the wrong way before slotting home in near post.
The deadliest aspect of NorthEast United's game has been the combination between Gallego and Ogbeche, the duo has linked up together to score four goals till now and has created numerous opportunities for each other.
If both of them manage to keep playing at this level for rest of the season, then the people of NorthEast can dream of a first playoff berth.
#1 NorthEast United take a leaf out of the wolf pack theory
"When winter arrives the pack survives the lone wolf dies" this sentence is from a famous tv show named yes you all guessed it right Game of Thrones. Why bring in a dialogue from G.O.T in football? Well, the answer lies in the sentence itself if one reads into it clearly we can understand that the dialogue says a lot about teamwork.
Northeast United FC built their team this year based on unity and didn't run after big names or so-called 'marquee' signings. This approach has so far reaped the rewards as the team has been grounded and focused and work collectively.
They press as a unit, attack as a unit and defend as a team, attributes that any coach would love to see but only a few masters.
NorthEast United play the game at a pace with which its oldest members namely Ogbeche, Mato and Gurwinder can adjust too and don't increase the tempo too much which they are capable of given the abundance of youth present in the team. With players like Redeem, Nikhil, Okhrah they have pace down the flanks, and yet they use it very wisely in a manner which is suitable for the strikers.
A lot of coaches, for example, Gombau the Delhi coach used his wingers without synchronisation in respect to the strikers and thus nothing fruitful ever happened. But, whenever NorthEast went down the flanks, they looked menacing, and that is mainly because of the old men(not so old on paper but old given the average age of the squad) being allowed to control the tempo of the game.
Many teams, this season in the ISL, have faltered while trying the increase the pace of the game to suit just one or two players in the group.
NorthEast has been smart in not committing the same mistake as the other teams.