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.