NorthEast United completes revenge with a 3-2 win over East Bengal

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Tomi Juric scored a brace in his first ISL start

After losing to East Bengal 5-0 in the first half of the season, NorthEast United completed their revenge by defeating them 3-2 at the Indira Gandhi Stadium in Guwahati on Saturday.

NorthEast United coach Juan Benali made three changes to the side that played a 1-1 draw with Jamshedpur. The Spaniard benched Bekey Oram, Parthib Gogoi, and Hamza Regragui in favor of Dinesh Singh, Redeem Tlang, and Tomi Juric. 

East Bengal coach Carles Cuadrat made one forced change to the side that played a 2-2 draw with Mohun Bagan Super Giant in the Kolkata Derby. Sayan Banerjee got the nod ahead of Saul Crespo in the attacking midfield position.

The home side took the lead in the fourth minute with Juric announcing his arrival to ISL in style. East Bengal lost possession in the final third and Jithin MS passed the ball towards Nestor Albiach who made an overlapping run. The latter spotted the Australian striker inside the box who stretched his foot to tap the ball home. 

Juric aimed for glory from a distance in the 11th minute but it went inches wide. However, it didn’t take long for the Highlanders to double their lead as Nestor scored in the 15th minute. Jithin made a pass towards Redeem on the far side of the pitch and the latter squared the ball towards Nestor. The Spaniard volleyed his shot into the back of the net to pile further misery on the away side. 

East Bengal continued to be on the backfoot throughout the first 30 minutes of the match with Hijazi Maher stepping up to clear the mess. 

In the 32nd minute, Sayan cut past his marker Dinesh and took an angled shot from the edge of the box. The shot was on target but it was a comfortable save for NorthEast United goalkeeper Mirshad Michu. In the 38th minute, Naorem Mahesh Singh tried to find Nandhakumar Sekar with a cross but Mirshad came out of his line to avert the danger. 

In the first minute of added time, Sayan found Mahesh inside the box but rather than taking a shot, the latter tried to find Nandhakumar but he put too much weight on the pass and the ball went out of play. 

NorthEast United started just from where they left in the 47th minute when Redeem made a dangerous cross towards the box. Jithin towered above his marker to nod it home but his effort was inches wide. 

East Bengal got one goal back in the 53rd minute through Nandhakumar with a bit of luck. Silva spotted Nandha’s clever run inside the box and made a pass towards him. The latter took a first-time shot and the ball struck Michu on his body before rolling past the goal line. 

In the 59th minute, Juric capitalized on a misplaced pass in the final third and passed the ball towards Tlang who tried to find Nestor but Maher came up with a vital interception to avert the danger. A couple of minutes later, Juric found himself in a one-on-one position with East Bengal’s Prabhsukhan Gill but the Aussie curled his shot straight to the goalkeeper. 

Costa Rica’s Felicio Brown soon replaced Sayan Banerjee as the former made his ISL debut for the Red and Golds while Vishnu PV replaced Jose Pardo to facilitate the other substitution.

In the 66th minute, Juric had the ball at his feet at the edge of the box and curled it into the top corner leaving Gill diving for the cameras. Regragui replaced Nestor in the 72nd minute and was called into action two minutes later when Juric slipped a pass to him inside the box but he got tackled before he could pull the trigger. 

Felicio Brown scores a consolation goal for East Bengal

East Bengal pulled another goal back in the 82nd minute after Silva’s initial shot with his weaker left foot was blocked inside the box. However, NorthEast United defenders failed to clear their lines properly and Brown poked it from point-blank range to reduce the deficit to one goal. 

Despite eight additional minutes being given for East Bengal to equalize, they failed to make the most of it. In the end, it was NorthEast United who had the last laugh with a slim 3-2 lead that took them back to the sixth spot with 16 points from 14 matches. The Highlanders would travel to Kolkata to square off against Mohun Bagan Super Giant next Saturday and would be hoping to cause an upset against the star-studded team. 

East Bengal, on the other hand, have little time left to themselves as they take on Mumbai City on Tuesday. They will be without Cleiton Silva who got his fourth yellow card of the season in the 24th minute of the match as Felicio Brown is likely to get his first start in ISL. With 12 points from 12 matches, they have two games in hand but would like to regain their sixth spot as soon as possible.