NorthEast United FC survive, keep hopes alive in ISL 3
NorthEast United FC kept their hopes alive in the Indian Super League by defeating FC Pune City by a one goal margin on Tuesday.
Ivory Coast midfielder Romaric scored a stunning free-kick in the 81st minute to collect the three points for Nelo Vingada’s side. They came into this one, on the back of six winless matches, losing four of them. With just two points off their previous six games, Vingada knew his team had to win to stay in the race for the top 4. His players responded, and in style.
Momar Ndoye, who played so well against Delhi Dynamos, had the only clear cut chance in the first half as he swiftly danced through the left but failed to beat Paul from a narrow angle. Other than that, the first half was quite a cagey affair with neither side really willing to take the gamble going forward. In the second half, FC Pune City came out with intent and were unlucky not to take the lead. Lenny Rodriguez let fly from 35 yards, but the ball hit the crossbar and went over. Not much later, Arata Izumi chested the ball down for Spanish midfielder Pitu, who was denied by a wonderful one hand reflex save.
In the 81st minute, FC Pune City won a free-kick. Romaric lined it up, and beautifully curled the ball into the top corner. That strike was worthy of winning a game, and it did win one for Nelo Vingada. The match did not have too many chances as both teams were looking to avoid defeat. NortEast United are now level on points with Chennayin FC with 14 points off 11 games, but stay above the South Indians because of a better goal difference. Chennayin will have the chance to leapfrog them when they travel to Mumbai.
For FC Pune City, things had started to look good with that thrilling 4-3 win over the Delhi Dynamos. However, with the 1-0 defeat, it looks an uphill task for them to qualify. They have 15 points off 12 matches. Needless to say, they will have to win both their games to have a crack at the playoffs.
Mumbai City FC on their way to booking a playoff spot
Mumbai City FC
Alexandre Guimarres’ team have shown tremendous form this season, with 19 points off 11 games. The hosts sit pretty on top the league table, 2 points ahead of second placed Delhi Dynamos. With FC Goa virtually out of the race for a playoff spot, 7 teams are battling it out. With a win against Chennayin FC on Wednesday, Mumbai City FC could well qualify for the playoffs way before any of the other teams do. The Mumbaikars are fresh from a 5-0 destruction of Kerala Blasters, and will be hoping to continue that form against Chennayin FC. Sunil Chhetri is yet to open his account for the season, but marquee man Diego Forlan is on fire. The Uruguan has scored 5 goals this season, and is definitely hitting top form as we approach the business end of the campaign.
At the start of the season, Sony Norde, Diego Forlan and Sunil Chhetri were supposed to be a deadly trio. However, that hasn’t quite gone according to plan even as the three have started together twice. Make no mistake, Mumbai City FC might be on top of the table, but to win the ISL, they must find their best team and have their best players firing, all guns blazing. The hosts will start with a 4-4-2 formation, with Defederico and Cafu playing out wide, and Sunil Chhetri playing behind Forlan as the second striker.
While Mumbai City FC are almost certain of a qualification spot, Chennayin FC are in desperate need for points. Marco Materazzi’s men have just 14 points off 11 matches, and will have to win at least two of their remaining three matches if they are to give themselves a chance.Materazzi’s approach towards these closing stages of the campaign is one to take not of. The Italian believes the only thing important from here is to get to a playoff spot and after that, the whole thing starts all over again.
A lot will depend on David Succi, the man who seems to be in good form after his strike against Atletico de Kolkata. However, Raphael Augusto has to be the main man, after a splendid two performances in the previous two games. Chennayin will be in a 4-1-3-2 formation. Blasi will provide protection to the back four, and Augusto will play in behind the two strikers. Last season’s champions Chennayin FC have never suffered defeat at the hands of Mumbai City FC in their 5 encounters so far. They will have to be at their absolute best on Wednesday, else, not only will they not make it to a playoff spot, but Mumbai could run riot as they dud against Kerala.
Mumbai City FC 2-2 Chennayin FC
While Mumbai City FC are the in form team and have shown clear intent, Chennayin FC desperately need the points. It promises to be an exciting encounter, considering that Chennayin have only won on the road once this season. We expect a 2-2 draw. The fans are in for a treat at the Andheri Sports Complex!