NorthEast United FC made a winning start to their 7th campaign in the Hero ISL by defeating favorites Mumbai City FC by a solitary goal courtesy
Ghanaian Kwesi Appiah's penalty in the 49th minute.
Having missed two days of training in the run up to the game and a couple of players sidelined due to Covid-19, the odds were well and
truly against the Highlanders as they took on the bookie’s favorite on the night - Mumbai City FC. The visitors had the lion's share of the
ball in the opening 30 minutes, but failed to create a major chance as the midfield pairing of Khassa Camara and Lalengmawia dug their heels and
ensured that the star midfield of Mumbai City could not dictate terms in the middle of the pitch, On occasion when the forwards charged through,
the defence led by Benjamin Lambot, was on hand to keep Adam Le Fondre and Bartholomew Ogbeche at bay.
In the 43rd minute of the game, Ahmed Jahouh was shown the red card for a rash challenge on Camara and this allowed the Highlanders the opening they were
looking for. Heading into the break with the scores level but a man advantage, the boys showed more purpose in the attacking half after the break and were
soon able to create enough pressure in the opposition box to draw a handball from Rowllin Borges. Kwesi Appiah converted the resulting penalty from the
spot and gave us the lead going into the last 40 minutes of the game. At the 60th minute, Head Coach Gerard Nus, introduced Federico Gallego in place of Luis
Machado and Britto PM in place of Rempuia Fanai. The duo combined well for a couple of moves in the attacking half but breaking the Mumbai backline proved
to be a difficult task on the night.
With the last quarter of the game remaining, Gerard Nus introduced Guinean Idrissa Sylla into the game. With the visitors looking to break level,
most of the football was being played on our defensive half as the boys continued to soak in the pressure and tried to counter on every opportunity.
Midfielder Imran Khan came on in the 90th Minute and saw his excellent strike from the edge of the box, go over the bar by a whisker.
A few more nervous scrambles at the back later, the referee blew the final whistle awarding the Highlanders a memorable win over their much
fancied opponents on the night. The fact that a Sergio Lobera side failed to register a single shot on target for the entire duration of the
game for the first time in the ISL was testimony to the caliber of the defensive performance the boys put in at the Tilak Maidan.
For his tirelessly tenacious performance in the middle of the park, midfielder Khassa Camara was adjudged the Hero of the Match, whilst performances
by Lalengmawia and Defender Dylan Fox also came for much appreciation from the fans and the pundits. The Highlanders will look to build on this performance
in the next match against Kerala Blasters. Speaking to the media after the match Head Coach Gerard Nus congratulated the boys on the victory and
lauded them for sticking to the plan. However, he was quick to cancel out any suggestions that the Highlanders will go into the game against the
Blasters as favorites after the memorable win, saying that the boys will have to work even harder to get a result from our next game.