It was a fantastic turnaround tale scripted at the Guwahati stadium as NorthEast United FC leapfrogged to the top four of the Hero Indian Super League table with a 2-0 victory over Mumbai City FC.
Spanish midfielder Bruno Arias drew first blood as he converted a spot kick in the 41st minute. Diomansy Kamara grabbed the second in the 85th minute to seal off a comfortable win. With this result, the Highlanders jumped to 4th with 16 points from 11 matches.
It was another sad story for Nicolas Anelka’s men as they were left reeling from the downward momentum, after having suffered a 0-7 loss in their previous outing. They remained at 6th with 12 points from 11 matches.
Both the sides had similar fortunes in their previous outings and consequently had a new look team on display. NorthEast United made seven changes and the away side from Mumbai had four fresh faces.
Mumbai City seemed to be riding high as their changes inspired hopes of an early goal. However the NEUFC goal tender, Rehenesh stood tall to save a dangerous volley from Saran Singh. The visitors held sway in the first half and it seemed that they had learnt their lesson after the drubbing at Goa.
But going against the flow of the game, NorthEast United snatched the lead as Kamara earned his side a penalty. The Senegalese striker kept the ball and made his way inside the box where his collision with Rowilson Rodrigues was adjudged against the latter. Arias stepped up and beat Subrata Paul who had guessed the direction correctly.
It was heartbreaking for the Westerners but they kept their composure. Under the tutelage of Anelka, the away side tried to find the equalizer but nobody stood up to the task.
After half time, the Frenchman went close, aided by his fellow striker, Sunil Chhetri. But NorthEast United custodian saved his effort anf Rehenesh was called to action again in the 81st minute as Anelka met Sony Norde’s cross but the goalkeeper made a brilliant save to keep Mumbai from getting the equalizer.
The Highlanders secured all three points at the dying stages with a second goal from Kamara. Simao Sabrosa had a free kick shot into the Mumbai goalmouth which saw a clash between Subrata Paul and defender Pavel Cmovs. Taking advantage of the same, Kamara made a simple tap in and it was 2-0 for the home side.
This result meant Mumbai City FC have a difficult task ahead of them to make it to the play offs. On the other hand, a remarkable turnaround from NorthEast United makes them a contender for a place in the top four.