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NorthEast United FC vs ATK Mohun Bagan: Who won yesterday's match?

NorthEast United FC kept themselves in contention for the final with a late equaliser. Courtesy: ISL
NorthEast United FC kept themselves in contention for the final with a late equaliser. Courtesy: ISL
Karthik Raj
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NorthEast United FC eked out a 1-1 draw against ATK Mohun Bagan in the first-leg of the second 2020-21 ISL semi-final on Saturday. ATK Mohun Bagan held a slender 1-0 lead until the third minute of stoppage time, before NorthEast United FC got an unlikely equalizer through Idrissa Sylla at the death.

Ahead of this mammoth encounter, ATK Mohun Bagan manager Antonio Lopez Habas shifted to a four-man back-line. Carl McHugh filled in for the injured Sandesh Jhingan, while Tiri was kept on the bench. On the other hand, NorthEast United FC’s manager Khalid Jamil brought back Federico Gallego in place of the injured Deshorn Brown.

NorthEast United FC were forced to be on their toes from the first whistle as their opponents pressed high. ATK Mohun Bagan established their presence quickly with an early chance as Manvir Singh’s shot was blocked by Dylan Fox for a corner.

Marcelinho also set-up Javi Hernandez for a shot, but the latter dragged his effort wide. Aussie David Williams went for a long shot from the left flank, but he could only sky it over the cross-bar. His partner Roy Krishna produced a great shot on the volley, only to see the ball strike the side-netting.

Post the cooling break in the first half, Manvir miscued his shot from an acute angle after receiving a long ball from Williams. After knocking on the door multiple times, ATK Mohun Bagan finally broke the deadlock through Williams in the 34th minute. Pritam Kotal’s long ball found Krishna on the edge of the box and the Fijian set-up Williams, who was just outside the box. Williams jinxed past Nim Dorjee and found the bottom-left corner to put his side ahead.

Northeast United FC got a freekick in a dangerous position, but Federico Gallego’s delivery was tipped away by Arindam Bhattacharja for a corner. Their best chance of the first-half came in the second minute of injury time, when Ashutosh Mehta's header struck the cross-bar.

NorthEast United FC were hesitant in possession early in the second-half, but they settled down soon after. Gallego set-up Camara for a shot, but he fired it way over the bar. Two minutes later, Crystal John made a big decision not to send off Arindam after his last-ditch challenge on Luis Machado. A long ball from the Highlanders’ defense helped Machado get into a one-on-one opportunity, but Arindam came racing out to put off the Portuguese winger. In hindsight, it was the right decision from the referee, as Arindam made little to no contact with Machado.

Khalid Jamil's side continued to attack as Ashutosh delivered a superb cross to substitute Idrissa Sylla, who couldn’t control the ball. Manvir won a free-kick for ATK Mohun Bagan just outside the box, but Marcelinho’s delivery was cleared away easily.

NorthEast United FC came very close to an equalizer, when Fox’s header was cleared off the line by Pronay Halder. Lalengmawia then set-up Sylla for a shot, but it went way wide of the target. Sylla then laid the ball for Gallego on the edge of the box, but the Uruguayan’s shot deflected off an ATK Mohun Bagan defender and fell kindly for Arindam to grasp.

NorthEast United FC refused to give up and finally equalized in stoppage time, when Sylla headed a Machado cross into the back of the net.

The Highlanders persisted in going forward in the dying moments, but it eventually ended 1-1, with everything to play for in the second-leg


Who was the Hero of the Match?

NorthEast United FC’s left-back Gurjinder Kumar bagged the ‘Hero of the Match’ award for his stellar defensive performance. It wasn’t an easy task to deal with the tricky Manvir Singh, but Gurjinder did a commendable job of keeping him quiet.

The 30-year-old was neat with his passes, while he contributed crucially with two tackles, one interception and a blocked shot to deny Manvir Singh.


Edited by Prem Deshpande
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