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ISL 2020-21: NEUFC snatch a point against KBFC with a last minute stunner by Sylla

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An absolutely stunning encounter on Wednesday evening in the Hero ISL produced a highly entertaining 2-2 draw where NEUFC came back in the second half after going two goals down against KBFC where Idrissa Sylla scored a last gasp equalizer for the Highlanders.

Image Source: Goal India Twitter

Two teams who were rather considered as underdogs in the ISL season gave a good account of themselves in their first game of the season. While KBFC lost to ATK Mohun Bagan, NEUFC came up against the mighty Mumbai City FC and won the David & Goliath battle with some comfort in the end.

KBFC decided to give a start to Seityasen Singh in this game as Vicuna felt the need for more drive in the final third while Federico Gallego made his first start of the season for Gerard Nus’ NEUFC. The game started in a pattern which seemed to suit both sides, while the Blasters seemed to enjoy possession, the Highlanders were quite happy to play on the break.

The game had its first piece of action as early as in the 5th minute when Seityasen delivered a wicked delivery of a set-piece in the final third which was beautifully glanced into the back of the net by KBFC captain Sergio Cidoncha but the NEUFC defense seemed to be clueless in their marking structure. An early goal made it 1-0 in favor of Kerala.

The game seemed to be having a jogging pace to it while both teams were not able to penetrate into the final third. While that was the problem from KBFC, NEUFC seemed to be finding it difficult to string 3-4 passes together in the game. Camara gave the ball away pretty cheaply in midfield to Gary Hooper who went striding onto the Highlanders defense and found Cidoncha in wide-open space on the right flank. When the KBFC captain whipped the cross back into the box, the pin-point delivery fell perfectly in the path of Hooper who had an open goal in front of him, but NEUFC had their luck on the brighter side as Hooper fluffed his lines and missed the chance.

Hooper’s time for redemption came back soon enough as KBFC were awarded a penalty for a foul by NEUFC defender Pradhan on the edge of the box while defending a corner. The Englishman Hooper put the ball down on the penalty spot confidently and blasted home a penalty right down the middle of the goal while the Highlanders’ keeper Subhashish Roy went the wrong way. Kerala now lead 2-0.

The half ended with Federico Gallego creating a host full of chances for NEUFC while KBFC looked to be trying to force the game as it stood into half-time. The Highlanders’ Belgian center-back Lambot missed a golden opportunity right on the stroke of half-time as he put his effort off a corner wide of the posts to end the half on a 2-0 scoreline favoring Kerala.

NEUFC started the second half on the front foot as they kept pushing for their first goal of the night. It came pretty soon as in minute 51, KBFC defenders couldn’t clear the corner away which fell delightfully onto the chest of Appiah who chested and further toed the ball into the back of the net and brought NEUFC back in the game at 2-1.

The match seemed to have completely turned a corner with that goal as NEUFC had the lion share of the possession in the second half. Gallego was denied a penalty very soon after the goal, in fact, the foul was given the other way round. It didn’t take long for the Highlanders to create another opportunity in a couple of minutes as, after a delightful buildup play, Jessel fouled Lalengmawia inside the box to give a penalty to Northeast United. Up stepped Appiah again for NEUFC, but fortune seemed to be on KBFC and Albino Gomes’ side on this one as he crisply struck the penalty on the crossbar which flew away for a goal-kick and the game stayed at 2-1 in favor of Kerala.

The game seemed to be running away from NEUFC despite their best efforts and good gameplay while KBFC missed a few chances yet seemed to have gotten away with the misses in the game. In the second-last minute of normal time, Gurjinder Kumar sent a hopeful long pass upfield to find his striker Idrissa Sylla. The former QPR striker controlled the ball beautifully on his chest and twisted the leave of both defenders away on the edge of the box. With no options in sight, Sylla struck a glorious half-volley with his left boot that rocketed into the back of the KBFC net and in the last minute of normal time, NEUFC had finally found the equalizer that seemed to have run away from their sights.

Both teams tried to win the game in the stoppage time but were unable to create good opportunities. The game ended 2-2 and seemed to be a fair result. For his superb performance at center-back for NEUFC, Dylan Fox was awarded the Hero of the Match but no doubts that Idrissa Sylla’s goal was the one that stole all headlines.

The mightiest and the greatest derby in Indian and Asian football is upon us on the 27th November 2020 at 7:30 pm as SC East Bengal take on ATK Mohan Bagan in their first ISL clash. The titanic derby has been the most awaited fixture of the Hero ISL 2020-21 so far and lets hope we get a cracker of a game. Cheers!

 

Also Read: ATK Mohun Bagan Squad Preview

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