Northeastern United approached the playoffs with a 2-1 victory over a 10-match match in East Bengal in a match of the Indian Super League at Fatorda Stadium here on Tuesday.
Suhair Wadakkepeidika’s shot (48th) and Sartak Golui’s (55th) own goal put Northeast United ahead before SC East Bengal pulled one in the 87th minute.
The victory brought Khalid Jamil back to the top four. They now have 30 points from 19 games, level by point with FC Goa in third place.
Now NorthEast United only need a point from their last league game against Kerala Blasters to qualify for the playoffs.
NorthEast made a change when Nim Dorji came in instead of Ashutosh Mehta. East Bengal made eight changes to their side, losing to ATK Mohun Bagan, as only Matti Steinmann, Sarthak Golui and Raju Gaikwad were retained in Game XI.
Although there are no regular ones, SCEB has made life difficult in the Northeast. The Dutch had a few half-chances, but East Bengal held them well. Mirshad Michu made an early save to deny Deshorn Brown up close when he passed a pass from Luis Machado from the inside.
Michu was forced to make another save when Suhair tried a long-range shot. The bounce travels to Machado, whose experience is fruitless.
Machado and Brown later combined from a set, but the Jamaican failed to make it difficult for Michu. SCEB’s Jeje Lalpekhlua had an excellent opportunity after 35 minutes, shooting on a through ball down the right hand side, but he missed the goal by miles!
Without clear chances for either side and the match was mostly limited to midfield, the teams tied at the break.
The second session was a different northeastern country. They took the lead from their first chance at halftime. Lifting the ball to the left, Imran Khan drove forward before passing an accurate pass to Suhair, who scored his first goal of the campaign.
Highlanders intensified their attacks after taking the lead and it didn’t take long for them to get their second position. But this time an own goal doubled its lead.
Dorji threw a cross from the right and in an attempt to clear, Sartak cut the ball from his shin in the back of the net.
Things went from bad to worse for the Kolkata team, which had to play the last 20 minutes with one less man. Gaikwad took Brown off the field and the referee showed him his second yellow.
With less than five minutes on the clock, Sartak redeemed himself with a fine goal. Sirchandra Singh delivered the free kick right in the middle, where Sartak nodded.