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ISL 2019-20: NorthEast United 0-0 Kerala Blasters | 3 talking points from stalemate

Modified 08 Feb 2020, 00:07 IST

Jessel Carneiro and Ninthoi
Jessel Carneiro and Ninthoi

Indian Super League (ISL) returned to Guwahati with a soulless goalless draw, as Kerala Blasters and NorthEast United failed to find the back of the net, at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium.

The match started at a pedestrian pace as both sides failed to create any notable moves from the center. The first half had very little activity on either end with only one shot on target, coming from Moustapha Gning's header just before the break. However, the second half turned out to be a relatively exciting affair with more intent on the offensive side from both teams. 

Nikhil Kadam's shot from Federico Gallego's pass in the 49th minute was the best opening the hosts created. Moustapha Gning and Bartholomew Ogbeche had golden opportunities to take the team in front but were left to rue their missed chances. 

At the end of the 90 minutes, the Highlanders and the Blasters once again fell short of a telling moment in the game, as they were destined to play their sixth draw of the season.

Here, we look at three reasons why the contest ended in a draw.

#3 Both teams lacked the final touch

Bartholomew Ogbeche
Bartholomew Ogbeche

The first half was a clear depiction of why both sides had failed to qualify for the playoffs. Even after the restart, NorthEast and Kerala were shy of going out for an all-out attack.

Nikhil Kadam's introduction at half-time did give hopes of a reward for Robert Jarni. The midfielder made an instant impact with a shot on target and was later involved in a few moves down the flanks. However, all the other attackers on the pitch including the likes of Andrew Keogh, Ninthoi and Milan Singh, were isolated figures with no telling impact on the game.

Kerala Blasters, on the other end, had very similar fortunes as Bartholomew Ogbeche couldn't break the duck for his side this time around. The French-Nigerian talisman badly missed the services of his striking partner Messi Bouli and Sahal Abdul Samad, who came in as a replacement, couldn't match up the services of his Cameroonian teammate.


Though the visitors showed more urgency in the final third with four shots on target, the move for a goal still stayed away from Guwahati.

In total, the attacking prowess of both the sides were underperforming on the night.

#2 Kerala Blasters fail to make most of their domination of the ball

Sergio Cidoncha
Sergio Cidoncha

Kerala Blasters, as always, ended the game with more ball possession, completed passes, shots, touches, and crosses. But still, the team failed to convert any of those into goals that would count.

The visitors exerted early dominance with 63% ball possession in the initial fifteen minutes of the game. At half-time, the numbers were in favor of Blasters at 58%. Blasters led the charts in passes too with, 211 completed passes against 110 when heading back into the tunnel.

However, the stats were accompanied by a lack of creativity going forward. Thus, none of the passes challenged the backline and were only balls to the wider areas of the pitch. Eelco Schattorie's side, once again, relied on their wingers with crosses, 13 throughout the game, which also came to no fruition.

Sergio Cidoncha, Jessel Carneiro and Lalruatthara regularly exchanged the ball between the backline and no real attempt was made to breach the NorthEast defence line with a through ball.

Thus, the team managed to dominate and outplay their opponents in all parts of the game except the scoreboard.

#1 Moustapha Gning and Federico Gallego impress for their respective sides

Federico Gallego
Federico Gallego

In a match that saw most players fumble at some part of their assigned duties, Moustapha Gning and Federico Gallego stood out with impressive shifts.

Federico Gallego, for NorthEast United, created three chances, made five tackles, two blocks and 47 passes. In an equally poised reply, Moustapha Gning came out with two shots on target, four tackles, four blocks and 56 passes.

Gallego, usually an attacking presence, was often spotted at the defensive third as a vital presence. Thus, the Uruguayan did all he could, putting his body in attack as well as defence.

Gning, on the other hand, is usually a defensive midfielder but was more often seen causing trouble in NorthEast's box. The Senegalese played the role of a perfect box-to-box midfielder extending options on both ends of the field.

Gallego helped the Highlanders win some crucial balls in dangerous areas but was not offered the needed support from his attacking peers. Meanwhile, Gning got into crucial positions but lacked luck to take his side into the lead.

Published 07 Feb 2020, 23:27 IST
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