NEUFC kept their hope alive of making into play-offs
North East United Football Club kept their hope alive of making into the play-offs of Hero Indian Super League season 3, after defeating their northern rival Delhi Dynamos 2-1. Seityasen Singh and Romaric second-half goals helped Highlanders to keep their hope alive, and already qualified Dynamos only got a consolation in 2nd half stoppage-time by Marcelinho. Now, Highlanders all eye will be on last league match against Kerala Blasters at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Kochi, which is going to be the decider. The winner of the last match between Kerala Blasters and NEUFC will join the other three qualified teams, Atletico de Kolkata, Delhi Dynamos and Mumbai City FC.
North East played their last match 3-3 draw against Chennaiyin, in which they concede three goals, but thanks to brace from Velez and Ghosh 90th minute goal, Highlanders leveled after finding themselves at back-foot every time. Consider the fact of conceding, NEUFC coach Nelo Vingada made five changes in the team bringing in TP Rehenesh, Nirmal Chettri, Robin Guring, Rowlin Borges, and Yusa Katsumi.
Dynamos were visitors, but they got on attack first. Florent Malouda made an accurate pass to Richard Gadze, which Gadze failed to shot on target. NEUFC got an early setback when their star striker Nicolas Velez, who was hero of the last match got injured in 12th minute, and got replaced by Robert Cullen.
At half-hour mark hosts find their creativity, when Borges picked out Emiliano Alfaro, who sees Robert Cullen making a run in the centre, but his pass was little off, and it got cleared before Cullen could have made the most of it. On the other end Gadze and Malouda continued to pair and making life tough for the hosts, as Gadze was about to make the most of the Malouda lofted shot, but Rehenesh interrupted and clear the ball.
North East was denied a brilliant opportunity in 37th minute, when Romaric found Seityasen Singh who passed it to Alfaro, but Doblas made a save only to ditch the ball towards Cullen. Cullen played it back for Alfaro, who was brought down by Souvik Chakarabarty, by referee denied the penalty appeal. Delhi Dynamos also had their chances with Kean Lewis and Marcelinho late into the first-half, but they also failed to capitalise, and first-half ended 0-0 for both sides.
The 2nd half started with a high tempo, unlike first-half. Dynamos were on attack again with Malouda and Gadze pairing together, but once again Rehenesh made the interruption. On the other end Alfaro made typical Suarez run dropping his shoulder off, but Lalchawnkima made a clean tackle avoiding penalty and keeping danger away.
Highlanders broke the deadlock in 60th minute, when Zokora saw Seityasen get in behind both Kean and Souvik. The winger got on to it and in spite of Souvik’s attempt to get it out of his feet, Seityasen bundled the ball over the line and NEUFC got their lead. After getting the lead, Highlanders were upfront again in action as Alfaro hold on to a long ball, and picked out Romaric on the left but his shot got deflected off Tebar. Romaric got the chance again in 72nd minute, and this time he made no errors to net the ball. Romaric stabbed it past Toni Doblas. Cullen picked up the ball in the midfield and perfectly measured the through ball to Romaric who guided it into the far corner.
Dynamos were out of the game with 2-0 down, and only 18 minutes left into the play. But, good news for Dynamos were they were already in play-offs, and in the end Marcelinho earned an stoppage-time consolation for the team. John Abraham owned NEUFC team fate depends on their final performance against Kerala Blasters in final league game, if they get a victory at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Kochi, they will replace Blasters from 4th position to book their place in play-off.