NorthEast United FC secured a hard-fought victory against SC East Bengal in Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2020-21 at the Tilak Maidan Stadium in Vasco on Saturday. The Highlanders remained unbeaten this season as they notched up a 2-0 win. The match saw one own goal and a first Hero ISL goal for Rochharzela as NorthEast registered their second win in four matches this season.
NorthEast began strong but it was SC East Bengal who had the first clear opportunity in the 4th minute. Jacques Maghoma’s curling free-kick was met by Scott Neville but the ball was diverted into the hands of goalkeeper Gurmeet.
The Highlanders opened the scoring three minutes after the drinks break courtesy of an own goal by SC East Bengal defender Surchandra Singh; it was also NorthEast United’s 100th goal in the Hero ISL.
NorthEast’s young winger Ninthoinganba Meetei’s long ball picked out Idrissa Sylla, who headed it to his fellow striker Kwesi Appiah. The NorthEast striker passed it back to Sylla who was unable to sort his feet out, however, the ball ricocheted off Surchandra, beating two SC East Bengal defenders and the goalkeeper to trickle into the goal.
SC East Bengal almost equalized in injury time of the first half but the Highlanders were strong defensively. Maghoma’s floated cross was parried away by Gurmeet. The ball fell to Neville but the header from Narayan Das following the cross from his teammate was blocked by Appiah.
The match opened up early in the second half, with both teams creating chances. After a chance by Appiah which was saved by Debjit Majumder, SC East Bengal midfielder Anthony Pilkington had a chance in the 61st minute but his piercing shot was blocked by Gurmeet.
SC East Bengal looked the more threatening side in the second half but failed to equalize against the resolute defensive unit of the Highlanders. Mohammed Rafique’s shot in the 68th minute was wide while Pilkington’s shot a few minutes later went over the crossbar.
In the last minutes of the game, SC East Bengal got desperate to find the equaliser and the Highlanders made the most of this on the counter. Highlanders substitute Rochharzela combined with another substitute VP Suhair to extend his side’s lead over SC East Bengal and seal the game in injury time.
This victory means Gerard Nus’ side moved up to second in the table behind ATK Mohun Bagan, while SC East Bengal are yet to score or win a match in their debut Hero ISL season. This was also NorthEast United's second clean sheet of the season.
ISL Media Release