GUWAHATI: Ghanaian icon Asamoah Gyan scored his first-ever Indian Super League goal to help NorthEast United FC earn a hard-fought victory over a 10-man Odisha FC side at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati on Saturday. The win takes NorthEast to the top of the Hero ISL 2019-20 table with four points from two matches.
The home team made a blistering start to the match and took the lead just two minutes in. Odisha lost possession in midfield and NortEast broke with pace. A neat piece of interplay involving Martin Chaves and Panagiotis Triadis, ended up creating a shooting opportunity for Tlang, bursting into the box from the right. Debutant Arshdeep Singh in the Odisha goal managed to get a touch on the midfielder’s effort, but it wasn’t enough to keep it out of the net.
The first 15 minutes saw both sides play with a high tempo, pressing for possession and trying to pass the ball forward quickly. Triadis, in particular, looked lively on the pitch and almost got his second assist of the night in the 22nd minute. His floated cross from the byline was met by Wayne Vaz with a header, but the defender’s radar was off, much to the relief of the visitors.
The visitors’ first move of note in the match came through Jerry Mawhmingthanga, whose shot was saved by Subhasish Roy. The NorthEast custodian was called into action seconds later, and, this time, he had to produce a more spectacular save to keep Aridane Santana’s header out of the goal and the scoreline 1-0.
The away team ended the first period strongly, but had nothing to show for it on the scoreboard, as the home side took their one-goal advantage into the break.
Odisha head coach Josep Gombau brought on Nandhakumar Sekar and midfielder Diawandou Diagne for the second-half and the former almost made an immediate impact. Ten minutes into the second-half, the winger latched onto the ball and cut in to open up the goal. His final attempt, however, was a tame one, allowing the NorthEast defenders to clear their lines.
Odisha looked the better of the two sides in the second period and finally found the equaliser on the 71st minute. Diagne twisted and turned on the right flank before putting in a low cross inside the Odisha box, where Xisco Hernandez was waiting to execute a cheeky flick to bamboozle Subhasish and bring Odisha level.
With the celebrations barely having died down, Odisha suddenly found themselves reduced to 10 men after Carlos Delgado was given his marching orders for pulling down substitute Maximiliano Barreiro.
The home side tried to press their numerical advantage in a bid to find a winner, and struck in the 84th minute from a corner. Asamoah Gyan was left unmarked in the box and the Ghanaian icon made no mistakes when the chance came his way, heading the ball in to make it 2-1.
NorthEast could have made it 3-1 in the dying seconds of stoppage time but Lalthathanga Khawlhring skied his shot. The miss, however, didn’t change the final outcome as NorthEast registered their first home win of Hero ISL 2019-10.