The definition of the beautiful game was purely reflected in the Matchday 37 of the Hero ISL as Northeast United FC share spoils with Odisha FC.
A captivating 90 minutes that had everything except the winning goal. A total of 33 shots and 660 passes from both the sides, a penalty, some absolute masterclass of goalkeeping from the goalkeepers.
Stuart Baxter remained loyal to his starting XI that played against Bengaluru and made no chances going to his last match before the Christmas break.
Gerard Nus on the other hand made 4 changes with Lalrempuia, Gallego, Britto and Machado coming in for Rochherzela, Camara, Ninthoi and Sylla respectively.
Gerard Nus kept his promise as his side looked very offensive and even possessed the lion’s share of the ball. The 11th minute probably saw Federico Gallego’s best version after returning from a horrifying injury as the Uruguayan lynchpin played a long ball past Odisha’s defence and Kwesi Appiah beautifully controlled the ball with his chest and even released the first shot on target of the game but Arshdeep stood tall against him.
The Kalinga warriors were awarded a free kick just a few minutes later that found Steven Taylor and then Diego Maurício who almost got his name on the scoresheet but Highlanders were no mood to give away a goal and Dylan Fox pulled off a goal line clearance.
But, Odisha did not hold back and Diego Maurício fired a bullet into the bottom corner following a throw in just near the box and Gurmeet had to answer to Maurício’s strike and Odisha took the lead for the first time this season.
The Highlanders changed their approach towards the game and forced Odisha to defend. A free-kick near the box found Lambot but his header did not trouble Arshdeep. A few moments later it was Britto PM who missed another chance to make it all square before going into the break.
Arshdeep was brought into action by Gallego courtesy of a direct free-kick and the young shot stopper pulled off a good save. Gallego delivered another ball into the box but Kwesi couldn’t make his effort count.
Just a few seconds before half-time Ashutosh Mehta did ever so well in his 50th Hero ISL appearance and produced an assist from the heavens that found Benjamin Lambot and the Belgian stalwart made no mistake and brought things back on level terms.
Odisha hit the ground running and Manuel Onwu’s deflected header forced Gurmeet to clear it off the 58th minute. Another free-kick was awarded to Odisha and Jacob tratt’s effort was denied by Gurmeet.
Well, Northeast United produced a lightning fast counter attack and at the end it was Arshdeep who brought down Kwesi Appiah in the penalty box and received a booking. Kwesi Appiah scored his third goal of the season from the spot kick and Northeast United were in the lead against the run of play.
Odisha this time around came out all guns blazing and the Kalinga warriors did equalise courtesy of some brilliant football and some brilliant finishing. Cole Alexander scored a beautiful curler past the goalkeeper and Odisha were right back into it.
Northeast United FC’s substitutes did leave their mark but lacked his cutting edge in the final minutes. Idrissa Sylla had the chance to become the super sub but his shot went wide. It was Khassa Camara’s effort that almost found of the back of the net but it missed the target by a few Inches. Suhair’s header was the last attempt on goal following a corner as both the sides shared spoils.
Hero of the match : Cole Alexander
The South African international was at his best against Northeast United and even scored his debut goal in India for Odisha and did well to pull of a hero of the match performance.
The Highlanders will be in action in 2021 against ATK MohunBagan and so will be Odisha FC against the new comers SC East Bengal.