NorthEast United finally opens the points tally by defeating ATK Mohun Bagan 1-0

Wilmar Jordan’s strike helped NorthEast United sink ATK Mohun Bagan

NorthEast United finally broke their duck, as they defeated ATK Mohun Bagan 1-0 to open their points tally in the 2022-23 Indian Super League courtesy of the deciding goal of the match scored by the Highlanders’ new recruit, Wilmar Jordan.

After his team lost 1-2 against Goa in the last match, NorthEast United head coach Vincenzo Alberto Annese made one change to his starting XI. Australian central defender Aaron Evans replaced Danish defender Michael Jakobsen.

On the other hand, ATK Mohun Bagan head coach Juan Ferrando made one change to his team after a goalless draw against Odisha. The Spaniard switched to a defensive formation, playing an extra midfielder in Lenny Rodrigues by benching Fardin Ali Molla.

As expected, the Mariners had the better start and came close to scoring in the 7th minute. Subhasish Bose’s accurate cross found Asish Rai, who did well to show his selfless side by laying a header for Liston Colaco. However, the winger could not keep his shot on target.

The Highlanders then took control of the match, but it wasn’t the 22nd minute when they had their first major opportunity. After receiving a pass from the deep, Jordan did well to first beat his marker and then pull the trigger. But unfortunately, while his effort had beaten the Mariners’ goalkeeper Vishal Kaith, the shot struck the crossbar and stayed out.

Luck really did not favour Annese’s team in the first half, as only five minutes after Jordan’s attempt, they rattled the woodwork again. This time, Pragyan Gogoi tried his luck from distance but the ultimate outcome was similar.

The last chance of the first half fell once again to the Mariners, in a match where the balance swung like a pendulum. Liston found himself in space and made a darting run down the right flank, but his attempted cross was cleared by Evans.

Liston Colaco had plenty of chances, but none of them resulted in a goal

Liston Colaco had plenty of chances, but none of them resulted in a goal

The 24-year-old winger was all over the pitch, and as a result of his work rate, the first chance of the second half also arrived at his feet. Once again finding himself in space, Liston launched a shot and this time around it was on target. However, the Highlanders’ custodian Mirshad Michu was up to the task.

Ferrando’s team clearly had the better start to the second half and had another chance just after the hour-mark. It was Australian forward Dimitri Petratos who launched a shot this time, but his attempt missed the target by a whisker.

But just when it seemed that ATK Mohun Bagan was knocking at the door, NorthEast United scored against the run of play. After receiving a through ball, 22-year-old midfielder Emil Benny did really well to find Jordan with a precise cross, and after dealing with misfortune, the Colombian striker finally was on target courtesy of a fine header.

The Mariners did have their fair share of chances to jump back into the contest. In the 72nd minute, youngster Kiyan Nassiri delivered a sublime cross into the box but found no takers. Eight minutes later, Liston was at the forefront of action once again as he struck a decent shot, but instead of finding the back of the net, it found the side-netting.

Benny had the time of his life today and launched a shot in the 89th minute, only for it to be cleared away by one of Ferrando’s defenders. The player from Kerala had another spectacular attempt in the 93rd minute, but this time, Kaith came up with an equally impressive save to keep the scoreline at 1-0.

The last chance, though, fell to the Mariners. In the very last minute, substitute Fardin struck a shot out of nowhere. It was directed straight at Mirshad, but such was the venom in the shot that it slipped out of the goalkeeper’s grasp. Thankfully for Mirshad and NorthEast United, the ball did not roll back into the back of the net but went out for a corner instead, which ultimately came to nothing.

NorthEast United remain in last place despite this win, but they now have three points to their name after this win. The Highlanders will now take on Hyderabad on Thursday while ATK Mohun Bagan, who remain 3rd with 20 points from  11 matches, will face Goa on Wednesday.