The visitors were the better of the two sides in the early exchanges as they dominated the possession and created more chances. Somehow a shaky Northeast United FC’s defence stood tall against multiple attacks by Chennaiyan FC in the opening minutes. There were opportunities for Connor Shields and Farukh Choudhary to give Marina Machans the lead but the finishing of the two players left coach Owen Coyle disappointed.
As the minutes passed by Northeast United FC grew in the game and started to catch Chennaiyan’s FC defence by surprise. Close to 30 minutes into the game, Northeast United failed to capitalize as a beautiful 1-2 between Néstor Albiach and Parthib Gogoi helped the team to penetrate Chennaiyan FC’s box. But as Gogoi pulled the trigger the shot was blocked by Cristian Battocchio.
Five minutes from half-time Choudhary missed yet another chance to convert as Chennaiyan started to slack off. No sooner had Choudhary missed the chance, Northeast carried the ball to the other end of the pitch. Romain Philippoteaux found an unmarked Gogoi who unleashed a thunderbolt from outside the box in the 42nd minute. The shot was so perfectly timed and placed that a fully-stretched Samik Mitra had zero chance in stopping the ball.
Northeast doubled their lead three minutes into the second half as a brilliant solo run followed by a defence splitting pass from Míchel Zabaco found Albiach waiting in the wings. With the ball at his feet, Albiach laid an inch-perfect pass for a rushing Phalguni Singh and Singh had no problem in putting the ball in the back of the net.
The pressure of trailing by two goals started to show on Chennaiyan FC’s as Coyle was forced to make two substitutions soon after Singh’s goal. Off went Choudhary and Lazar Ćirković in favour of Irfan Yadwad and Ryan Edwards respectively. There were more changes made by Owen as just after one hour mark Alexander Romario Jesuraj and Ayush Adhikari were withdrawn to bring in Ankit Mukherjee and Jiteshwor Singh. Despite the changes, Chennaiyan failed to create chances. There was more trouble for the team from the South as Mitra was spotted constantly holding his left hamstring. Chennaiyan’s best chance to score in the second half arrived when Ninthoinganba Meetei made use of his pace to pierce Northeast’s backline but Mirshad Michu spread his arms and legs wide and made himself large enough to block the shot.
Two goals up, the Highlanders were clinical in game management as they kept possession the ball and made timely changes to run the clock down. Chennaiyan could barely create any more chances in the match. Such was the vistor’s plight that Mukherjee had to fulfil the goalkeeping duties in the dying minutes of the match as an injured Mitra was taken off the field. With an outfielder in between the sticks, defender Asheer Akhtar blasted a long rager to score NorthEast’s third goal in the first minute of the injury time.
Statically speaking Chenniyan were the better of the two sides as it had 11 shots on target to NorthEast’s 10. A 54% possession and 354 passes to NorthEast’s 311 also showed that Chenniyan dominated the play in the outfield. But it was NorthEast who capitalized on the moments that mattered!
With three goals, NorthEast arrested its four-match losing streak against Chennaiyan and walk away with all three points.
Key Performer of the Match
Néstor Albiach was the most vital player in NorthEast’s thumping win over Chenniyan. His energetic runs from the wide areas and assist for Phalguni Singh proved decisive in settling the fate of the match.
What’s next for both teams?
For matchday 3, Northeast United FC will visit ISL newcomers Punjab FC on October 6. Chenniyan FC will have to dust itself off and seek home comfort at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium where it will host Mohun Bagan Super Giants on October 7.