In an exhilarating showdown at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati, NorthEast United FC gave it their all against the reigning Indian Super League shield winners, Mumbai City FC.
The ISL 2023-24 opener was a highly anticipated battle between two teams that occupied opposite ends of the table in the previous season. Juan Pedro Benali's squad faced the challenge without the presence of the suspended Michel Zabaco, providing an opportunity for Yaser Hamed to make his club debut. The match marked a significant moment as six players made their maiden ISL appearance for NorthEast United FC.
The visitors took the lead in the 26th minute through a scrappy goal from Jorge Pereyra Díaz. However, the Highlanders swiftly responded as Parthib Gogoi displayed his brilliance, evading the Islanders' defence and slotting home a sensational shot into the bottom corner from 20 yards out, levelling the score.
Des Buckingham's side regained the lead in the 38th minute, with Diaz securing his second goal of the night with a poacher's finish, set up by Mehtab Singh's well-placed header. Despite Mumbai City FC's dominance for the remainder of the half, NorthEast United FC's defence held firm.
In the second half, both teams relentlessly pursued goals, and Mumbai City FC thought they had extended their lead, only for it to be ruled out for offside. NorthEast United FC pushed hard for an equalizer, but the night ended with a 2-1 victory in favor of Mumbai City FC.
The Highlanders are now set to face Chennaiyin FC in their second match of the ISL season on Friday, September 29, 2023.