NorthEast United thrash leaders Chennaiyin FC 3-0

NorthEast United pumped in three first half goals in a rampaging show to drub table toppers Chennaiyin FC 3-0 in an absorbing Hero Indian Super League match to keep their hopes of a semifinal berth alive on Thursday.

Senegalese defender Massamba Lo Sambou scored twice (21st and 23rd) in the space of two minutes after Assmamese Durga Boro struck in the 10th minute to consolidate his status as one of the domestic finds of the tournament in front of a packed crowd at the Indira Gandhi Stadium.

With nearly 30,000 home supporters cheering their club, NorthEast were ahead 3-0 in the 23rd minute and they denied the table leaders from Chennai to score any goal to notch up their first win in seven matches.

Chennaiyin did most of the attacking with more shots on goal but they could not find the target. Even NorthEast marquee player Joan Capdevila’s expulsion in the 72nd minute after his second yellow card did not lead to any goal from Chennaiyin as the home side guarded their citadel well.

Before Thursday’s victory, NorthEast have not won a match since their 2-0 away defeat of Mumbai on October 24. Since then, they have lost three and drawn three matches before today’s win.

After Thursday’s win, NorthEast have jumped to fifth spot with 13 points from 11 matches while Chennaiyin remained on top of league table with 19 points from 11 matches.

Chennaiyin will now feel the pressure what with Atletico de Kolkata hot on their heels with 16 points from 10 matches.

Chennaiyin head down south to Kochi for a game against Kerala Blasters FC on November 30 while NorthEast travel to Goa for their next fixture on December 1.

NorthEast were on the ball right from the word go. They pegged the visitors back in their own half with their passing and speed of movement, particularly down the flanks.

The home fans did not have to wait long to see their team go in front, when Eric Djemba-Djemba’s headed clearance hit Seiminlen Doungel and fell kindly for Durga Boro in the 10th minute.

The Assamese striker was in the right place at the right time and pounced on the opportunity and finished past a charging Gennaro Bracigliano.

That opened the floodgates and some 10 minutes later Sambou got two goals in quick succession, both from set pieces, one a corner, and the other a free kick.

The latter was a beautifully floated in curler from Koke which saw Sambou rise majestically over his markers and head it powerfully across the goal and into the far corner of the net.

Both goals came in a space of two minutes and NorthEast were three goals ahead in the 23rd minute after managing to score just one goal in the last three games.

The match had a lot of heated moments as the visitors felt the pressure getting to them, but surprisingly, they were the team that ended the game with 11 men, as NorthEast marquee player Capdevila was sent off in the 72nd minute after his second booking.

Garcia’s header helps Atletico de Kolkata beat NorthEast United FC

Luis Garcia fired in a stunning header in the second half to help Atletico de Kolkata end their four-match winless run by registering a 1-0 win over NorthEast United FC in their return leg ISL fixture at the Vivekananda Yuva Bharati Krirangan on Tuesday.

Garcia struck in the 51st minute, beating the towering Spanish World Cup winner Joan Capdevilla in the middle and the win helped ATK go three points clear of Chennaiyin FC in the lead position.

It was Borja Fernandez who brilliantly intercepted the ball and passed it on to Jofre Mateu whose measured cross from the left set up Garcia for the match winner.

Atletico now have 16 points from nine matches. They have four away and one home game left.

The scoreline could easily have been 2-0 but sub Arnal Llibert squandered an easy opportunity after being set up by Sanju Pradhan in front of an open net.

If NEUFC were brilliant with their defence, they were equally pathetic with their attack with the Indian duo of Durga Boro and Alen Deory wasting chances which derailed their recovery plans.

NEUFC had the best chance in the 83rd minute when Alen put in a great ball inside the six-yard box but an unmarked Seimeinlen Doungel wasted the free header only to put the ball over the bar.

Earlier, NEUFC made two changes to their starting line-up bringing in Massamba Lo Sambou in the central midfield and Durga Boro up front in place of Len Doungel and James Keene.

ATK, on the other hand, replaced Biswajit Saha with N Mohanraj in the backline in the only change to their line-up.

The first-half was full of intensity as both NEUFC and ATK went hammer and tongs to go one up.

ATK were sharp with their attack but it was the visitors’ Spanish World Cup winner Capdevilla who stood in their way.

NEUFC, on the other hand, had better ball possession and got as many as five corners in the first-half but with an innocuous attack in the Indian duo of Alen Deory and Durga Boro, the Guwahati franchise cut a sorry figure.

Garcia had an inspiring surge in the sixth minute but he was a tad faster than his striking partner as ATK took some time to settle down.

ATK’s first real opening came in the 11th minute when NEUFC goalkeeper TP Rehenesh brought down Fikru on the edge of the box in the right flank but the defence proved too strong once again.

The home side once again had a taste of NEUFC’s strong defence when Garcia’s powerful right footer from the edge of the box was blocked brilliantly by Capdevila in a 29th minute.

FC Pune City hope to return to winning ways vs NORTHEAST UNITED FC

FC Pune City seemed to have kickstarted their campaign with their win over FC Goa. However, they lost their next game to Kerala Blasters FC and now lie seventh in the Hero Indian Super League table with just four points. They host one of the in form sides of the tournament, NorthEast United FC, who have lost only once and are third in the standings with eight points. Pune are playing their third successive home game and will look to get back to winning ways against the Highlanders who have performed creditably away from home, with a win and draw in their last two games.