NorthEast United FC played out a 1-1 draw against Bengaluru FC in the 55th match of the 2020-21 Indian Super League (ISL) Season at the Tilak Maidan Stadium in Vasco da Gama. NorthEast United FC went ahead through Luis Machado’s goal in the first-half but a Gurmeet Singh error meant they had to be satisfied with a point.
The game started on a quiet note as both Bengaluru FC and NorthEast United FC’s failed to threaten the opposition’s defense while going forward. For Bengaluru FC, left-back Parag Srivas was the only player who looked lively on the left flank.
In the third minute, Parag drilled a low cross to Kristian Opseth, who didn’t quite get the space to turn and release a shot. The 23-year-old then played a nice one-two with Harmanjot Khabra before sending in a ball towards Kristian Opseth once again but the delivery was cleared away. A while later, Rahul Bheke whipped a cross to Opseth but the Norwegian's header was saved easily by Gurmeet Singh.
Just when Bengaluru FC looked promising, Luis Machado scored in the 27th minute after a series of errors. Spanish midfielder Dimas Delgado lost the ball in midfield and this allowed Federico Gallego to progress forward. Gallego took a scuffed attempt at goal but Pratik Chaudhari was late to react and allowed Machado to find the back of the net.
Thereafter, Bengaluru FC’s defense unraveled as the Highlanders got more of the ball. Rochharzela came up with an inviting cross but VP Suhair missed from close range. With a glorious chance spurned, NorthEast United FC almost conceded from a throw-in. It was a routine long throw-in from the Blues that was flicked onto Cleiton Silva but the Brazilian’s shot was saved superbly by Gurmeet Singh.
Right after the second-half kicked off, the Blues got a massive gift as Rahul Bheke’s shot from the right flank was bizarrely misjudged by Gurmeet Singh for the equalizer.
Gifted an unexpected equaliser, Bengaluru FC forced the issue and skipper Sunil Chhetri worked hard and tried to set up Cleiton Silva. However, Gurmeet Singh kept his composure and collected without fumbling.
At the other end, NorthEast United FC won a series of corners but the opposition defended very well as the Highlanders targeted a goal to regain the lead.
NorthEast United FC subbed in Ninthoinganba Meetei in the 65th minute but the pace of the game died down despite his introduction. In the last quarter of the game, Bengaluru FC moved the ball quicker after the introduction of Leon Augustine.
Right-back Rahul Bheke could have had a brace for Bengaluru FC but he headed the ball over from Dimas Delgado’s corner-kick. Cleiton Silva pounced on a loose ball and went for a long shot but it went just over the cross-bar. Such half-chances were the best opportunities in the dying stages of the match as the quality in the final third was missing from both sides.
In the end, the match finished in a stalemate with Bengaluru FC getting their first point after four straight losses.
ISL 2020-21, NEUFC vs BFC: Who was the Hero of the Match?
Midfielder Lalengmawia was named as the ‘Hero of the Match’ for his tireless performance against Bengaluru FC. The 20-year-old wasn’t supposed to start the game but a late injury to Fanai Lalrempuia right before kick-off changed the scenario.
One of the skippers for the Highlanders this season, Lalengmawia showed his maturity with some neat passes and interceptions. The Aizwal-native maintained a superb 85% passing accuracy. He also came up with three interceptions and two clearances. The work-rate of Lalengmawia and Khassa Camara ensured that Bengaluru FC didn’t have a lot of space through the middle.Published 13 Jan 2021, 08:00 IST