Phalguni Singh netted the only goal of the match as NorthEast United FC edged Indian Army FT 1-0 in the first quarter-final of the Durand Cup 2023. The 28-year-old showed incredible persistence to bag his maiden goal and send the Highlanders into the semi-final for the first time.
Head coach Juan Pedro Benali made five changes to the side that registered a comeback win over Downtown Heroes FC in the last group stage match. But they found it tough to break through the Indian Army’s resilience. Romain Philippoteaux hit the crossbar in the 10th minute and that was the only big chance NorthEast United FC had in the opening half.
Changes were made at the break with Nestor Albiach & Manvir Singh being brought in replacing Redeem Tlang and Rochharzela. And the duo made instant impact which resulted in breaking the deadlock. The Spaniard’s cross was headed towards goal by Manvir. His attempted header lacked the pace to go in but Phalguni chased the ball and managed to turn home in the 51st minute.
The home side tried their best to put the game to bed but Ibson Melo’s strike was ruled out for offside. More chances followed for the Indian Army but Mirshad Koottappunna along with the backline ensured the clean sheet would be maintained.
NorthEast United FC will now face either East Bengal or Gokulam Kerala in the semi-finals at the Salt Lake Stadium on Tuesday, 29th August.