Spanish striker Federico Gallego’s goal in the 82nd minute and Bartholomew Ogbeche’s late strike in the 90th minute gave North East United FC a win over Delhi Dynamos in their Indian Super League match in Delhi on Tuesday.
North East United started with zeal and hit the crossbar as early as the 6th minute, Ogbeche trying his luck with a smart dinked finish from outside the box.
And the pressure did not subside there when Rowllin Borges came up with an effort of his own which went just wide off the far side of the Delhi post.
But after absorbing initial pressure, Delhi finally started finding some passes in midfield with Indian youngster Shubham Sarangi combining well with Lallianzuala Chhangte and Andrija Kaluderovic. Chhangte showed why he is so dangerous with his pace giving the North East backline some worries on a couple of occasions.
However, Delhi’s insistence on playing out from the back almost cost them as North East raced through on goal on more than one occasion, winning the ball high up the pitch launching an assault on the Delhi goal. Ogbeche cut inside from the right hand side and went down in the box after colliding into a Delhi defender on one such play, but appeals for a penalty were deemed too soft by referee Senthil Nathan S.
Amidst this, North East United goalkeeper Pawan Kumar almost cost his team a goal as he took too much time to clear the ball and onrushing Kaluderovic almost dispossessed him to tap it into an empty net.
On the 40th minute mark, Rowllin Borges controlled a bouncing cut-back well and sorted his feet out quickly to attempt a shot on goal, blocked by Pritam Kotal. From the subsequent corner, Delhi goalkeeper Dorronsoro Sanchez reacted brilliantly, his left hand reaching out to keep the ball out from the far post and maintaining parity.
Shortly before half-time, Gurwinder Singh went out and Lalthathanga Khawlhring came in, with Singh unable to carry on after suffering a knock. The sides went into half-time with scores locked at 0-0.
The story was largely the same in the second half with neither side establishing any control over the game, as most of the plays were largely intercepted in the midfield.
North East manager Eelco Schattorie realized that things were not really clicking for striker Juan Cruz Mascia, and replaced him with Ghanaian Augustine Okrah in the 71st minute.
As far as Delhi was concerned, Lallianzual Chhangte was substituted by Romeo Fernandes in the 78th minute. It was around this point of time that the game came to life.
Bartholomew Ogbeche came close with a volley in the 80th minute, and the majority of North East supporters in the ground thought that the ball had found the back of the net. They did not have to wait long for that moment, though.
North East’s goal was a thing of beauty, Federico Gallego with a drop of the shoulder in the Dynamos penalty box in the 82nd minute, rifling a shot to Delhi goalkeeper Sanchez’s left to leave him with no chance of saving it. The Spanish striker rushed to the North East bench to celebrate with the coaching staff and players.
With Delhi committing more and more bodies up front, the second goal on the counter attack was inevitable. A sweeping move saw the ball being played to Ogbeche’s feet, and the French attacker made no mistake in tucking the ball past the Delhi goalkeeper, sending the crowd into raptures.
Speaking about the game in the post-match presentation ceremony, Delhi coach Josep Gombau said, “Second half, we started strong and we had our moments in the game. But two mistakes cost us two goals. Nothing to say, we have to improve ourselves. Nobody will come and do the job for us.”
On the other hand, North East United coach Eelco Schattorie was pleased with his side’s performance and explained the strategy behind the win.
“We changed the system to 4-4-2, analysed Delhi and saw where the weaknesses are,” he said. “My biggest worry was that Delhi like to play football but we closed them down well. Second half, we sat back a little bit more because after the pressing, we had to sit back and relax.
“But away game, clean sheet, young players coming in to the game. I am very proud of the performance.”