NorthEast do a double against mighty Mumbai with 2-1 victory
NorthEast United got the better of Mumbai City yet again, doing a double over the Islanders with a 2-1 win in the Hero Indian Super League, in Bambolim, on Saturday.
The win also ended Mumbai's chances of creating history with a record 13th straight unbeaten game.
Interestingly, NorthEast is the only side who have managed to win against the might of the table-toppers.
Interim coach Khalid Jamil also maintained his perfect run since taking charge of NorthEast and has now recorded his third straight win, taking his side back into the top four with 21 points.
Deshorn Brown's first-half double was enough to see Mumbai off, despite Adam Le Fondre pulling back a late goal.
There were a couple of changes for both teams. Mandar Rao Dessai returned to the starting XI for Mumbai while Jackichand Singh was handed his first start.
For NorthEast, Benjamin Lambot made a comeback to the playing XI after Dylan Fox was ruled out with injury while Provat Lakra came in for the suspended Gurjinder Kumar.
NEUFC got off to the best possible start, scoring two goals in the opening 10 minutes to hand an early blow to Mumbai.
Brown powered NorthEast ahead in the sixth minute. Luis Machado had a shot at goal which was parried by Amrinder Singh, but the danger wasn't cleared as Nim Dorjee sent in a cross into the box. Brown, timed his run and smashed the ball, into the back of the net.
The Highlanders punished Mumbai for sloppy defending and scored their second within three minutes. Federico Gallego whipped in a corner in the box, which the Mumbai defense failed to clear as Hernan Santana's weak header found Machado.
The Portuguese forward pushed the ball to Brown and the Jamaican netted his second.
Mumbai tried to get back into the game but nearly conceded their third. It was Brown once again for NorthEast. On getting the ball on the flank, Lakra made a run before crossing the ball to an unmarked Brown, however, the Jamaican shot wide.
NorthEast continued to attack and nearly scored the third soon after the restart but Mumbai custodian Amrinder Singh produced a fine save to deny Lalengmawia.
For NorthEast, Khassa Camara did extremely well in the midfield particularly creating problems for Hugo Boumous, who particularly had an unusually quiet game.
Second-half substitute Adam Le Fondre pulled a goal back for the Islanders in the 85th minute to restore some hope for Mumbai.
Le Fondre and Boumous combined before the Frenchman found Ogbeche, who set free Le Fondre in the box. And the man who initiated the move fired the ball into the back of the net.
Mumbai nearly equalised in the stoppage time. Le Fondre's attempted shot found Mehtab at the far post but his goal-bound header was pushed out for a corner by Subhasish Roy.
Real Kashmir FC, Gokulam Kerala FC play out goal-less draw
Real Kashmir FC and Gokulam Kerala showed the intent but could not make the most of their opportunities, settling for a goal-less draw in their I-League fixture in Kalyani.
With the draw, Gokulam Kerala FC find themselves with seven points after five matches while Real Kashmir are one behind with six points after four games, having missed out on a chance to go second in the table.
Playing like a team with a point to prove, Gokulam Kerala FC brought the game to Real Kashmir FC in the opening minutes of the match.
Vincenzo Annese's men looked hungry to take the lead and committed bodies in attack. Although they were repelled by Real Kashmir's compact defence led by Mason Robertson, the attacking momentum gave them confidence as the match progressed.
Much against the run of play, however, in the 11th minute, Sena Ralte released a delicious cross for Lukman Adefemi, who was waiting to pounce inside the box. The cross earned minimal contact with the Nigerian's boot as it flashed in front of goal and went back into play across to the other flank.
In the 20th minute, Mayakannan's mistimed shot fell surprisingly to Philip Adjah inside the box. Despite Adjah being onside, the Ghanian forward failed to find the net with only the opposition goalkeeper to beat.
With Gokulam Kerala FC dominating possession and creating more chances, the Snow Leopards waited for their opportunities, sitting back and playing on the counter.
Real Kashmir striker Lukman Adefemi was mostly isolated up top, and whenever he was found by the midfield, the Malabarians' defence swarmed to rob the ball off him.
In the 38th minute, a quick turn by Adefemi meant that he could go all the way onto goal. As the lanky forward entered the box with only the goalkeeper to beat, he shot wide of goal as Gokulam survived a scare.
Real Kashmir were given a golden opportunity to go ahead nine minutes into the second half when Lukman Adefemi was found inside the box with a long ball. As the forward tried to open his body and release a curling shot, the Gokulam defence line swarmed him and ultimately blocked his effort.
Three minutes later, it was Gokulam's chance to attack. Emil Benny ran onto the right flank and released a curling cross for Philip Adjah inside the box. However, the Real Kashmir goalkeeper read the play and latched onto the cross.
It seemed like neither team could find the decisive pass in the final third. With both teams defending compactly and with bodies behind the ball, chances became rare.
Although Gokulam had more possession than Real Kashmir, the Malabarians could not create any clear goal-scoring opportunities.
Aizawl FC strike twice for second win of I-League campaign
Aizawl FC beat Neroca FC 2-1 in their fifth round I-League fixture at the Mohun Bagan Ground in Kolkata.
MC Malsawmzuala scored the winner in the 56th minute after Judah Emmanuel Garcia had cancelled PC Laldinpuia's first-half header.
With the victory, the Mizo team now moves up the table with seven points and is placed four points behind leaders Churchill Brothers with one game in hand.
Neroca, who came into the match after a 4-1 defeat against Gokulam Kerala, started with attacking intent and, within three minutes, had two chances to score.
Khanngam Horam latched on a forward pass from Jude Garcia in the second minute but his shot was blocked and sent for a corner. Horam was again in the thick of things but without success.
Aizawl settled in after the early scare and threatened the Neroca goal through a number of corners. They, however, only tested the keeper in the 15th minute, when C Laldinpuia reached Malsawmtluanga's corner but the defender's header was straight at the keeper Bishorjit Singh.
Five minutes later, Bishorjit was forced to make another save to keep the scores equal as Ramhlunchhunga chested a cross down to his feet and took a shot. The Neroca custodian had to come off his line quickly and deny him the opener.
In the 28th minute, Aizawl were again denied the opening goal as Alfred Jaryan's header was cleared off the goal line.
Aizawl kept threatening and were rewarded for their efforts in the 37th minute. An inswinging cross delivered by Malsawmtluanga was met by Laldinpuia, who sent his header past a stranded Bishorjit Singh in the Neroca goal.
The former champions almost doubled their lead in the 40th minute through Jaryan, but Bishorjit had no trouble in dealing with the shot, ensuring that his team went into half time with a single goal deficit.
Neroca returned with vigour after the break and levelled the score through Judah Emmanuel Garcia just before the 50th minute mark.
Songpu Singsit turned past his man in the centre of the park and found Garcia in space. The Trinidad and Tobago striker took a couple of touches before releasing a low powerful shot from outside the area, which zoomed past Lalmuansanga in goal.
With the scores equal, both teams started to attack with intent and this opened up the game.
Nathaniel Jude Garcia almost gave the Manipuri team the lead in the 55th minute, but his long-range freekick struck the top of the crossbar.
The third goal of the game came in the 56th minute and it was the former I-League champions who grabbed the lead for the second time.
A cross from the right flank caused panic inside the Neroca box and as the goalkeeper failed to deal with the long ball, MC Zuala headed the loose ball into an empty net to make it 2-1 in favour of Aizawl.