NorthEast United and Jamshedpur FC played out an entertaining 3-3 draw at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati. There were as many as six different goal-scorers on a night when teams kept exchanging the lead on numerous occasions.
The game got off to a quick start as Federico Gallego got in his first goal of the Indian Super League season to put Northeast United ahead in the 4th minute of the game. With Northeast then going onto dominate the majority of the first half, Jamshedpur FC were at bay until the 45th minute when David Grande turned in an Amarjit Singh cross out of nowhere.
Antonio Iriondo's Jamshedpur FC came out like a different side in the second half without even threatening the goal in the first 20-25 minutes. Like how Jamshedpur scored against the run of play in the first half, Northeast regained their lead with a superb strike from Redeem Tlang in the 77th minute. Eight minutes later, however, Jamshedpur were suddenly 3-2 ahead with two quick goals from Noe Acosta and Memo Moura.
These two goals seemed to have sucked all the energy out of the hosts but a poor foul conceded by Farukh Choudhary led to the equaliser as Jose Leudo found the back of the net following a Gallego free-kick.
#3 Northeast United's young midfielders get the better of Jamshedpur FC in the first-half
The hosts NorthEast United got off to a pretty quick start with skipper Federico Gallego opening the scoring in just the 4th minute. While Gallego took the opportunity really well, the credit has to go to winger Ninthoi Meetei for visualising a superb through ball to Andy Keogh.
While Keogh did fluff his shot, the ball fell kindly to Gallego and the Uruguayan took the chance with both hands. It was not just the contribution to the goal that made it tough for Jamshedpur FC as the likes of Lalengmawia and Redeem Tlang imposed themselves on the game.
While Tlang looked to press high and make life difficult for the out-of-position Sumit Passi, Lalengmawia kept the ball moving very quickly with one-touch passes and intelligent flick-ons. With the team's inexperienced players doing well, the cornerstones like Jose Leudo and Gallego were at their very best as NorthEast rarely gave away the ball to Jamshedpur. This is reflected in how the hosts dominated both the possession and passing accuracy stats.
#2 Jamshedpur fluff chances in both halves
As mentioned above, Jamshedpur couldn't keep the ball for long with the central midfield duo of Aitor Monroy and Amarjit Singh becoming frustrated as the first half went on. However, the Jamshedpur forwards were guilty of their own for not making the best use of half chances.
While Spaniard David Grande came up with a poor shot after making an impressive run in the 13th minute, Bikash Jairu's touch deserted him when Aniket Jadhav came up with a delicious cross fifteen minutes later. In fact, just a few minutes before Grande headed the ball in the 45th minute for the equaliser, the striker had played a poor pass to Jairu during a potentially threatening counter-attack as the move fizzled out.
In the second half, if Grande and substitute Farukh Chaudhary's inefficiency in the final third wasn't enough, Noe Acosta went onto miss both a penalty and a tap-in a matter of minutes. Questioning Jamshedpur's profligacy in front of goal in a match where they scored three goals might across a surprise, but the bottom line is that the visitors could have easily had five or six goals to their credit.
#1 Porous defensive play from both sides leads to a goal-filled second-half
With Jamshedpur FC getting in a late equaliser in the first half, the visitors came out as the stronger side after the break. Coach Antonio Iriondo also made his presence felt with some fine-tuning to the team's formation to go along with the clever introduction of Noe Acosta. These minute changes saw Jamshedpur seeing more of the ball in the early minutes of the second half but they weren't able to create many chances.
This played into NorthEast United's hands as Redeem Tlang smashed home a spectacular volley to put the home side ahead with just 12 minutes of regulation time to be played. However, the inexperienced Jamshedpur left-back Sandip Mandi was at fault for the goal as his headed clearance off a Martin Chaves cross wasn't powerful enough to evade Tlang.
This goal opened the floodgates both sides as Northeast's desire to close out the game was matched by Jamshedpur's aspiration to stage a comeback. A little later, NorthEast's relief after escaping a poor penalty from Noe Acosta was dampened by the Spanish winger's impressive snapshot from outside the box. Here again, the goal came out of some confusion between the duo of Gallego and Andy Keogh when neither of them cleared the ball. After this, Northeast crumbled as Memo struck a strong shot off a free-kick to put Jamshedpur ahead with a number of the home side's players failing to get a block.
If there weren't enough twists and turns already, the defensive midfielder came up with a superb goal on his own in the dying stages of the match. This final goal came up after Farukh Choudhary's ill-advised tackle saw him getting a second yellow card. With Gallego lobbing the following free-kick into the box, Jose Leudo chested the ball down before turning to strike the ball into the top-right corner.