Guwahati: It was a completely dominating performance by NorthEast United, sans a goal as they held newbies Jamshedpur FC to a 0-0 draw at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati on Saturday.
Playing infront of a ravishing home crowd the side played some beautiful football and came close to scoring a number of times but only for the post to interfere.
It was not a debut Jamshedpur would have hoped for, but their defence led by former ISL winner Tiri and Indian ‘Spiderman’ Subrata Pal saved the night for the TATA owned franchise. Their midfield looked out of touch and chased the ball for most part of the game and to matters to worse, substitue and former NorthEast player Andre Bikey received marching orders 10 minutes after coming on, following a high boot on Luis Alfonso Páez.
‘The Highlanders’ were on the positive side right from the start and could have well gone ahead in the very second minute had Marcinho kept his shot in. Playing more of a possession based football and backed by a huge crowd support the home side looked threatening everytime they had the ball.
Brazilian midfielder Marcinho was central to most of the NorthEast attacks and almost scored one one himself in the 26th minute, when his header went inches above the bar.
Jamshedpur on the other hand were second best most times but awoke to life just before half-time when Izu Azuka was presented with a glorious chance, but failed to score as Rehenesh saved with his legs.
The first half however was just a glimpse of what was to come in the second, as NorthEast flooded a number of attacks on the Jamshedpur goal. Playing as a lone striker, Danilo Cezario was lively all evening making tireless runs, but lacked that killer instinct. A marcinho pass in the 56th minute put him clear on goal with only the goalkeeper to beat, but his chip over a diving goalie went wide. Another shot 10 minutes later was saved by Jamshedpur custodian Subrata Pal.
The goal drought of this seasons ISL however looked to have ended when Marcinho put in a wonderful header out of everyone’s reach, only for the upright to block it. Numerous attacks followed but Jamshedpur defence aided by the miraculous Subrata Pal stood still to see out the match, without conceding a goal.
The away side, although far too less had their chances in the latter-half and almost took the lead when debutant Abdul Hakku’s clearance hit the bar. Azuka had a couple to chances late in the game, but failed to bury it.
Substitue Luis Páez, villain for many of the away fans courtesy his role in Bikey’s red card could have well become the hero when Halicharan Narzary’s pass found himtwo minutes before stoppage time, but he shot into horizon as ISL kept it’s wait for a first goal.