GUWAHATI: NorthEast United FC notched a thumping 3-2 victory over East Bengal FC at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati in the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 in the first of the Staurday double header.
The home side seemed eager to stamp their authority in the proceedings early on, especially to respond to the 5-0 drubbing they had faced at the Salt Lake against the Red & Gold Brigade in December.
Spanish attacking talisman Nestor Albiach was at the forefront of it, setting up the opening strike by Tomi Juric before netting the second one 15 minutes into the match. Cuadrat has taken great pride in the defensive discipline that his side has shown this season, however, a lot of it was missing in the offset of the match.
Nestor pounced upon the same in the fourth minute, squaring up a delivery for Juric that the latter merely tapped in to open the scoring in the fourth minute. However, it was the nature of the second goal that was even more impressive, with the Highlanders capitalising on the high line that the East Bengal FC defence had employed.
Juan Pedro Benali’s side broke into a swift counter attack, with Redeem Tlang splitting open the visitors with a sharp assist that Nestor got to the end of and netted to double the lead. Such dynamic plays suggested that the Highlanders meant business and it helped them go into the halting break with the two-goal lead.
East Bengal FC emerged as an energised unit after the break, and clawed back in the game with a move similar to the one that had resulted in the prior strike by Nestor. It was Cleiton Silva who helped the team break through the NorthEast United FC backline with a through ball for Nandhakumar Sekar in the 53rd minute. Nandha has set up many such deliveries for the Brazilian this season and Silva returned the favour, helping the former Odisha FC striker cut the deficit with a neat finish.
However, NorthEast United FC wore a confident look this evening and they were surely not going to budge in front of the visitors. Merely 13 minutes later, Juric launched a powerful shot from the left hand side of the edge of the box, with the effort beating a fully stretched Prabsukhan Singh Gill and helping the Highlanders bag their third goal of the game.
Silva seemed eager to get something out of the match, and he dribbled actively inside the box before shooting with his left foot. Felicio Brown Forbes headed in the rebound from close range, but the effort was not enough to secure them a point from the encounter. Agencies