Margao, Feb 23 (PTI) NorthEast United moved closer to a play-off spot with a 2-1 win over 10-man SC East Bengal in an Indian Super League game at Fatorda Stadium on Tuesday.
A goal by Suhair Vadakkepeedika (48th) and an own goal by Sarthak Golui (55th) gave NorthEast United the lead before SC East Bengal scored in the 87th minute.
The win brought Khalid Jamil’s team back into the top 4. They now have 30 points from 19 games, tied with Goa in third place.
NorthEast United only needs one point from their last league game against Kerala Blasters to qualify for the play-offs.
NorthEast made a change when Nim Dorjee stood up for Ashutosh Mehta. East Bengal made eight changes to their team, which lost to ATK Mohun Bagan as only Matti Steinmann, Sarthak Golui and Raju Gaikwad were kept in Game XI.
Although SCEB had no regulars, NorthEast made life difficult. The Highlanders had a couple of half chances, but East Bengal contained them well. Mirshad Michu made an early rescue to deny Deshorn Brown up close when he shot a Luis Machado pass out of the box.
Michu was forced to make another save when Suhair attempted a shot from a distance. The rebound traveled to Machado, the attempt of which was unsuccessful.
Machado and Brown later teamed up for a set piece, but the Jamaican couldn’t disturb Michu. SCEB’s Jeje Lalpekhlua had a good chance in the 35th minute but his header went wide.
Since there were no clear chances for either side and the game was largely limited to midfield, the teams were on the same level during the break.
In the second session it was a different northeast side. They took the lead from their first chance of the half. Imran Khan picked up the ball from the left and drove forward before giving an accurate pass to Suhair, who scored his first goal in the campaign.
The Highlanders stepped up their attacks after taking the lead, and it wasn’t long before they got their second. But this time it was an own goal that doubled their lead.
Dorjee whipped a cross from the right and to clear, Sarthak cut the ball from his shin into the back of the net.
For the Kolkata team, which had to play with one man less for the past 20 minutes, things kept getting worse. Gaikwad brought Brown out of the box and the referee gave him his second yellow.
With less than five minutes on the clock, Sarthak recovered with a beautiful goal. Surchandra Singh put the free kick right in the middle, to which Sarthak nodded.
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