SC East Bengal's disappointing Indian Super League (ISL) season continued as they lost 2-1 to NorthEast United FC on Wednesday. VP Suhair put the Highlanders in front in the 48th minute before Sarthak Golui’s own goal doubled their advantage seven minutes later. Although Sarthak pulled one back for the ISL debutants late on, it was too little too late.
With the playoffs out of their reach, SC East Bengal made as many as eight changes to their starting line-up. But NorthEast United FC started strongly, with Luis Machado creating a chance as early as the third minute. Machado played a through ball to Deshorn Brown, whose shot was easily saved by Mirshad Michu.
Machado then combined well with Imran Khan, but the latter’s chipped pass was slightly over-hit as Mirshad raced off his line to catch the ball. SC East Bengal also had their chance when Matti Steinmann found Mohammad Rafique with a neat pass on the right-flank. But there wasn't anyone to meet the eventual cross.
SC East Bengal survived a penalty appeal when Raju Gaikwad almost wrestled with Brown, who went down inside the box. However, the referee waved play on. VP Suhair then tested Mirsahd with a strong strike, but the SC East Bengal custodian did well to parry it away.
Machado soon swung in a fine corner-kick, but Brown failed to chest it down properly as the ball rolled safely to Mirshad. After the cooling break, Jeje couldn't find an empty net from Ajay Chhetri’s corner-kick. SC East Bengal looked lively as the half neared its end, but they couldn’t eke out an opening.
NorthEast United FC started the second-half with a bang as they went ahead in the 48th minute, courtesy of VP Suhair's goal. Imran Khan delivered a pinpoint through ball to Suhair, who made no mistake in finding the back of the net.
Provat Lakra then blocked a fierce strike by Haobam Singh, while Deshorn Brown was denied by Mirshad at the other end of the pitch. The Highlanders doubled their lead in a fortuitous manner when SC East Bengal defender Sarthak Golui sliced the ball into his own net while trying to clear a cross from Nim Dorjee.
NorthEast United FC could have probably scored a third in the 63rd minute, but Suhair miscued his header from close range. SC East Bengal were then reduced to ten men in the 71st minute after Raju Gaikwad was booked for a second time after bringing down Brown. SC East Bengal soon received a free-kick, which substitute Surchandra Singh hit superbly, only to see NorthEast United FC goalkeeper Subhasish Roy Chowdhury push it over the post.
Surchandra also nailed a long-range effort, but it was too straight to trouble Subhasish. The veteran goalkeeper then made a mistake as NorthEast United conceded a goal late in regular time. Surchandra delivered another inviting free-kick into the box and Sarthak Golui redeemed himself by heading the ball into the net via Daniel Fox’s head. In the end, NorthEast United FC sealed the win to pick up three important points.
Who was the Hero of the Match?
VP Suhair bagged the Hero of the Match award for his crucial second-half goal, which broke the deadlock. Suhair bagged an assist for Rochharzela’s goal in the reverse fixture and went one step ahead with his maiden ISL goal on Tuesday.
When the chance arrived early in the second-half, Suhair produced a neat finish after receiving a fine pass from Imran Khan. The 28-year-old also contributed defensively for NorthEast United FC with one clearance and a block.