Photo Credit: Bengaluru FC Twitter
ISL 2020-21 Bengaluru FC vs NorthEast United FC: Bengaluru-NorthEast United share spoils
The two sides played out a 1-1 draw in an important tie.
NorthEast United FC and Bengaluru FC played out a 1-1 draw on Tuesday night at the Tilak Maidan Stadium in Vasco. Luis Machado scored in the first half to give the Highlanders the lead but a second-half strike from Rahul Bheke negated their lead.
The match began with both sides struggling to find their feet.
Both teams took some time to find their rhythm but it was Bengaluru who earned the first clear opportunity of the game. In the 24th minute, Bheke crossed the ball from the right flank but Kristian Opseth’s header was straight at the goalkeeper.
Just three minutes later, the Highlanders managed to draw the first blood. Blues midfielder Dimas Delgado lost the ball to Federico Gallego and the playmaker found Machado at the far post and the Portuguese winger promptly slotted the ball into the bottom corner of the net to score his third goal of the season.
The Highlanders came close to scoring their second in the 35th minute but Suhair Vadakkepeedika’s header was inches off the target. In search of the equaliser, Bengaluru were denied by Highlanders custodian Gurmeet after the goalkeeper safely collected a shot from Cleiton Silva shortly before the end of the first half.
Four minutes into the second half and Bengaluru were back in the game. Bheke cut in from the right and attempted a shot from just outside the box. Gurmeet misjudged the effort as the ball crept into the goal to restore parity between the teams.
NorthEast United kept the pressure on their opponents as they looked to take the lead for a second time. A headed attempt from Suhair was pushed over the crossbar by Gurpreet Singh Sandhu in the 59th minute. Gurpreet was tested again in the 73rd minute but the goalkeeper palmed away Gallego’s effort from a freekick.
The stalemate came close to being broken on a couple of occasions thereafter but neither side could make their chances count and eventually settled for a point each as Bengaluru managed to bring an end to their run of four losses, while NorthEast United extended their winless streak to seven matches.
Bengaluru interim head coach Naushad Moosa urged his team to take the positives from their first point in five matches.
“We have to take the positives from the point that we have got. It was not easy giving away an easy goal. From here it’s very important to keep my players motivated and see that they do not feel low. We have eight days (before the next match) to work on our mistakes,” Moosa said at the post-match press conference.
The Highlanders’ Portuguese winger Machado found a lot of space in Bengaluru’s defensive third before scoring this third goal of the season. It was, however, set up by Federico Gallego who deceived the Bengaluru defence smartly before providing the assist. Moosa was not pleased with the way his team conceded their goal but was happy with the overall effort put in by the Blues.
“The way we conceded the goal was very unexpected. But I am very happy with the way the team was playing. They put in a lot of effort and were moving the ball around. We had a good game and I am happy with the way the boys played. It was a team effort. Everyone was motivated for a positive result,” said the 49-year-old.
Meanwhile, NorthEast United assistant coach Alison Kharsyntiew said: “Our objective is to get the three points but to play against Bengaluru is not easy. One point is good enough for us. This will keep the positive energy in the team and it will give us confidence to carry into the next game.”
A goalkeeping error by Gurmeet helped Bheke score the equaliser but the assistant coach defended his custodian. “We were leading by one goal but sometimes mistakes can happen. He did well throughout the game except for that one mistake. I hope that he can learn from it, prove himself in the next game and gain more confidence,” said Alison.