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ISL 2020-21: One final hurdle remains for spirited NorthEast United after relentless win over East Bengal




NorthEast United need a point against the Kerala Blasters …

Khalid Jamil is a man of few words. But his actions had the necessary impact after taking the reins from Gerard Nus at NorthEast United.

The Highlanders, who were winless in six games when they called on the Indian coach after parting ways with Nus, have changed their seasons. The Guwahati-based club are now undefeated in eight games, including five wins and three draws.

The playoff race also saw some twists and turns and with NorthEast recording a 2-1 victory over East Bengal on Tuesday they are just one step away from reserving a playoff spot for the second time in its history. The victory brought their tally to 30 points and they now need a point against the Kerala Blasters to seal their place in the semi-finals.

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The East Bengal attack, led by striker Jeje Lalpekhlua who started his fourth game of the season, did not threaten the North East defense enough to cause them problems. The Highlanders managed to create scoring opportunities, but it was the second half that turned out to be full of action.

VP Suhair, who has been deployed on the right flank all season. once again proved effective in the final third. The former Gokulam Kerala forward drifted inside the flank, recovered Imran Khan’s pass and slammed the opening goal. The Red and Golds’ three-player defense, with Scott Neville, Raju Gaikwad and Sarthak Golui, has often been stretched and they have paid a price.

There was football from start to finish, but a bit of poor defense from Sarthakg allowed the Highlanders to score their second goal a few minutes later. Nim Dorjee’s cross into the box was sliced ​​into his own net by the Indian defender after his attempt to clear the ball for the first time went awry.

Sarthak then did what every own defender who scores an own goal usually does. He led Surchandra Singh’s free kick from the left flank three minutes before the end of the 90-minute mark, but NorthEast United, who are firmly in the playoff race, were vigilant enough to prevent a late comeback.

East Bengal deserves credit for their late retaliation, especially after Gaikwad received a second yellow card and the squad were reduced to 10 men. The Highlanders survived the late assault, but Robbie Fowler’s side simply didn’t have enough quality to stage a comeback. They had struggled even with starting games like Anthony Pilkington and Bright Enobakhare and so on Tuesday without these key players their overall quality fell further.

Assistant coach Tony Grant opened up about his thoughts on the game after the full-time whistle and said: “We tried young players, we had Jeje (Lalpekhlua) up front and none of them did. had enough (quality), they never had enough. So recruiting is still the key and these are the players that we have had all season and this is the best they have watched. We weren’t ready at the start of the season, now they had a chance and they had to show us but they couldn’t show us (which they got). “

East Bengal’s lack of quality that day helped NorthEast United and they will take it. They delivered a spirited performance to keep the race unbeaten and their play-off hopes alive and well.

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