Image Courtesy: Indian Super League Media Team
It was almost d j vu for North East United FC (NEUFC) and Chennaiyin FC, at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, in Guwahati, as the home team ran away 2-0 winners, to register their first victory of the season, in a rather ill-tempered affair.
Like last year, Chennaiyin FC were travelling to the North East, on a two-match winning run, but like last season, the Super Machans succumbed to another defeat at the hands of the Highlanders.
The match started off on a high tempo, and that trickled down the temparment of the players, and a soft penalty given by the referees, to NEUFC, for a shirt-pulling offense by Alessandro Potenza, inside the box.
However Diomansy Kamara stepped up to take the penalty, but his shot lacked any conviction, as Chennaiyin FC keeper Edel saved it, and collected the ensuing rebound.
This seemed to have soured the match, as Harmanjot Khabra saw a straight red card, right after he was booked for a soft foul. Video evidence seems to suggest that the Chennaiyin FC player might have used some offensive language against the referee, after being booked by the latter.
The match turned sour after that, as we saw NEUFC and Chennaiyin FC managers Cesar Farias and Marco Materazzi exchanging heated words on the touchline. Right after that, Chennaiyin FC defender Mendy and Farias also had a bit of a brawl of their won, with the rest of the support staff, and the substitutes also joining in.
Things were calmed down after a whistle, as the fourth official was forced to call seven minutes of time added on, at the end of 45 minutes, due to the amount time lost to on-pitch brawls.
The match proceeded in good tempo, in the second half, with NEUFC taking the initiative to attack, while Chennaiyin, who were down to 10 men, mostly sat back, and tried to hit on the counter. Materazzi finally brought on his two key players striker Stiven Medoza and playmaker Elano, late sin the second half, in hopes that they would make some sort of a difference, and snatch a win.
However, Mendoza, who had scored five goals from four appearances, previous to this game, turned from hero to villain for the Super Machans, as he bundled over NEUFC marquee player Simao Sabrosa, inside the box, when the Portuguese winger was trying to get onto the end of a Nicolas Velez shot that had rebounded off the bar.
The referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot, awarding NEUFC their second penalty of the game. Simao stepped up this time, and coolly slotted the spot kick into the the bottom corner, in spite of Edel diving the right way.
With the opening goal of the match coming on the 90th minute, Chennaiyin barely had enough time to get the equaliser, but they pushed forward anyway. This gave NEUFC more space to counter, as Sanju Pradhan broke away on the right, and sent in a low cross to Velez, who calmly curled the ball into the bottom corner of Edela s woodwork, effectively ending the contest.
Although the match ended in a win for NEUFC another brawl broke out after the final whistle, as players and officials tried to calm things down.
NEUFC forward Velez said at the post-match presentatison ceremony, a We are very happy . We deserved to take some points, and finally we got the points at home. Ia m happy really to score (that) goal. Its always good for strikers to score. But ita s also important for the team to win.a
This win heaves NEUFC out from the bottom of the Indian Super League (ISL) table, as they leapfrog Mumbai City FC into the seventh place. This gives some much needed momentum to the Highlanders, as they look to turn things around, after losing their first three matches of the season.