In match number 104 of the Indian Super League 2020-21 season, NorthEast United FC beat SC East Bengal 2-1.
NorthEast United FC came into the game on the back of an eight-game unbeaten run under interim coach Khalid Jamil. SC East Bengal, on the other hand, had nothing but pride to play for.
SC East Bengal made eight changes to their starting XI, giving some of the reserve players a start.
The game started as a cagey affair, with both the teams taking a cautious approach. The first half ended with the scoreboard reading 0-0.
NorthEast United FC started the second half on a positive note, and took the lead with a VP Suhair strike in the 47th minute.
Sarthak Golui's own goal doubled NorthEast United's lead in the 55th minute. East Bengal then got one goal back in the 86th minute through a Sarthak Golui header. The match ended 2-1 in favour of NorthEast United FC.
Let us take a look at four things we learned from today's game.
#4 NorthEast United win but play unimpressive football
A trait of all Khalid Jamil-coached sides has been that they get the job done but don't always play attractive football.
While in his first few games as NorthEast United FC's interim coach this season, the Highlanders played attractive football.
In the last few games, though, it has been evident that NorthEast United's primary plan is to pass the ball to Gallego and let him do the rest.
With the squad that East Bengal fielded, NorthEast United should have registered a comfortable victory, but ultimately they had to fight hard for the win.
#3 SC East Bengal's defensive howlers continue to haunt them
East Bengal have had a season to forget despite it being their centenary year. The Kolkata giants have collected just 17 points from 19 games, winning just three games.
A significant worry for East Bengal has been their defensive stability, with the team conceding late goals and dropping points.
Against NEUFC, the East Bengal defense had a lapse in concentration early in the second half, and it was during that spell that NorthEast United FC scored twice and closed the match.
Had Robbie Fowler managed to set up the East Bengal defense in a more stable manner, then, maybe, the former Liverpool striker would have had a better season as a coach.
#2 NorthEast United have one foot in the playoffs
With the win against East Bengal, the Highlanders need just a point from their final league game of the season against Kerala Blasters to secure a place in the playoffs.
If NEUFC manage to reach the playoffs, this will be their second appearance in the ISL knockout stage.
#1 Lack of a proper striker ruin SC East Bengal's season
If lack of defensive stability was one of the reasons behind East Bengal's poor season, then missing a proper number nine was another.
The absence of a proper striker has hampered East Bengal throughout the season. Both Jeje and Harmanpreet have failed to live up to expectations.