Photo Credit: ISL Media Twitter (https://twitter.com/IndSuperLeague/status/1335255150076686337/photo/1)
ISL 2020-21 NorthEast Unite FC vs SC East Bengal: NorthEast United defeat SC East Bengal in a controversial tie
NorthEast United FC defeat SC East Bengal by 2-0 at the Tilak Maidan Stadium in Vasco.
The hosts won the game by 2-0 in a tie marred by questionable refereeing.
The hosts began strong but it was SC East Bengal who got the first shy at the goal when a curling free-kick from Jacques Maghoma met Scott Neville, who only headed it to the keeper.
Much to the agony of SC East Bengal, NorthEast United found the lead three minutes past the half-hour mark, when a ball from Ninthoi found Idrissa Sylla, who headed it to Kwesi Appiah. The Ghanaian headed the ball back to Idrissa who was unable to get hold of the ball but to his luck, the ball ricocheted off Surchandra to trickle past the goalkeeper and two defenders into the back of the net.
The visitors almost equalized in the injury time of the first half when a floated cross from Maghoma looked threatening at the NorthEast goal but custodian Gurmeet Singh managed to parry it away, but only to Neville who played it to Narayan Das, but the latter's header was blocked by Appiah.
NorthEast United's Appiah had the first chance of the second half but his effort was saved by Debjit Majumder.
In the 61st minute, Anthony Pilkington had a powerful shot on target but his effort couldn't beat the keeper.
SCEB upped the ante in the search for an equalizer. Substitute Mohammed Rafique's shot went wide of the target in the 68th minute, followed by Pilkington's effort that flew over the crossbar later.
The visitors threw bodies forward and NorthEast made the most of it in the injury time through a counter-attack when VP Suhair's run followed by a delightful cross was finished calmly by Rochharzela to double the lead for the Highlanders and put the final nail in the coffin.
The match was however marred by some controversial decisions from referee Santosh Kumar, who denied SC East Bengal two penalties in the match, one at the 20th minute when Maghoma was taken down in the box by Ashutosh Mehta and second when in the 61st minute a shot inside the box hit the arm of one of the NEUFC players.
NEUFC head coach Gerard Nus was pleased with the outcome and felt that the team deserved all the points, “We definitely deserved to get these three points. We did many good things but we have to keep working. It is just the beginning of the season and we are building a team, and I'm completely convinced that we had a great performance.”
The coach was impressed with Ninthoi's performance and was focused on the upcoming Bengaluru tie, “Now that we have a really short time to get ready for the next match. We are playing against Bengaluru which is another massive challenge,” Nus said looking ahead to the match against Carles Cuadrat’s side.
SC East Bengal head coach Robbie Fowler was not happy with the team's game but felt they should have won, “It is when you have lost a couple of games. Tonight was our worst performance in terms of the games we have played so far. But we still should have won the game. We know that we have got something to work with. We have lacked a little bit in the final third but we will get it right,” he said."
The team's run of defeats has disappointed the coach but he stressed on the improvements on the pitch, "We are massively disappointed with the result, but we can take something out of the match. We played okay but we lost the game so that’s all that matters,” Fowler said.
The Englishman was happy with Sehnaj's performance, "Sehnaj played very well. We know what type of a player he is and we just wanted to see him playing in that position. He put in a performance that he can be proud of.”