The Highlanders faced another hard-fought defeat against the Kolkata giants ATK Mohun Bagan on matchday 8 of the Hero ISL season 8. The match kicked off at 7.30 PM at the PJN Stadium Fatorda in Goa.
NorthEast United took the early lead through Suhair in the 2nd minute but the visitors equalized right before half-time through Liston Colaco. ATK Mohun Bagan were able to double their lead in the second half with two goals from Hugo Boumous and the Highlanders could only cut down the deficit to one with a late 86th-minute goal from substitute Mashoor Shereef.
Coach Khalid made one change in the starting line-up as Spaniard Hernan Santana made his way back after missing out on the last game with an injury suffered during the warm-up. The hosts started the game on the front foot and were able to earn themselves a corner right at the 2nd minute of the game. And it was from the delivery of Frenchman Mathias Coureur that VP Suhair was able to find the back of the net to score the fastest goal for the Highlanders in the history of Hero ISL.
Having conceded an early goal, the visitors were trying desperately to create an opening to find the equalizer and they got their chance at the 15th minute. A lofted delivery towards Roy Krishna was met by the forward but the Highlanders’ custodian Mirshad comes out bravely to keep out the danger and keep the lead intact.
The visitors kept trying in the following minutes but the solid defensive display by the boys in Red was keeping the visitors at bay. At the 26th minute, coach Khalid had to make a forced change as left-back Gurjinder left the field of play with an injury and Tondonba had to replace him. Both the teams kept trying to find the back of the net but it was right at the brink of half-time when ATK Mohun Bagan found the equalizer through a header from Liston Colaco and both the teams headed into the dressing room at the break with the scoreline tied at 1-1.
Having conceded the goal, coach Khalid made two changes at half-time; Joe was brought on to replace Lakra and experienced Danmawia was brought on to replace Chhara. The intent to restore the lead was clear from the hosts as right at the 3rd minute of the half, Mapuia found a free header of Amrinder’s clearance but the Mizo forward’s attempt missed the goal by a whisker. Mapuia soon had another chance to find the back of the net, this time from a cutback from Joe down the right-wing, but the former couldn’t connect well and his attempt went wide.
It was at the 53rd-minute mark that the visitors were able to take the lead through Hugo Boumous. Joe Zoherliana made cleared off the first attempt off the line but the clearance ricochet off Danmawia and fell perfectly for Liston, who set up Boumos for the finish. In the following minutes, the Highlanders had a chance to equalize through a corner but Flotmann couldn’t direct his header on target.
At the 63rd minute, coach Khalid made a tactical change as Mashoor was brought on to replace Mapuia but soon after, Khassa Camara got himself injured and as the final change of the game, Pragyan Gogoi was brought on to replace the Mauritanian. Meanwhile, goalkeeper Mirshad was called into action once again as he had to fend off a shot from Liston to keep the visitors’ lead to one. But it was right before the cooling break, Hugo Boumous found himself through on goal and chipped it past Mirshad to double the Mariners’ lead at the 76th minute.
Despite trying on plenty of occasions, the Highlanders were not able to penetrate the opposition’s defence and had to wait till the 87th minute to bring down the Mariners’ lead to one. A cross from the left fell perfectly at the feet of Mashoor who took a touch before putting it through the legs of Amrinder to score the 2nd goal for the hosts. But it was a bit too little too late as ATK Mohun Bagan played out the remaining minutes and the match ended 2-3 in favour of the visitors.
NorthEast will next face defending champion Mumbai City FC on the 27th of December at the PJN Stadium in Fatorda.