NorthEast United FC can count themselves unlucky for not getting anything more than a point in their goalless 0-0 draw against debutants Jamshedpur FC in the opening round of the Indian Super League (ISL) season four clash at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium here on Saturday.
The hosts were the dominant side, particularly in the second-half, but could not finish off some impressive moves as the goalpost denied them twice and rival goalkeeper Subrata Paul came up with a superlative save in a one-on-one situation.
NorthEast United were quick off the blocks.
Marchino, NorthEast United’s new Brazilian acquisition, had the first big opportunity of the game early on after Jose Goncalves found him at the edge of the six-yard box with a precise cross.
The midfielder, however, only managed to blast the ball over the crossbar.
Eight minutes into the game, NorthEast United were again knocking at the opposition’s door.
This time Marcino turned provider. His corner found Goncalves inside the box but the Portuguese defender’s shot was well blocked by goalkeeper Paul.
Debutants Jamshedpur FC were finding it hard to hold on to the ball. But for all that time on the ball, NorthEast United didn’t manage to create any clear-cut opportunities in the first 45 minutes.
At the other end, Steve Coppell’s men almost took the lead in added time against the run of play.
After making a darting run into the NorthEast United box, Sameegh Doutie’s low cross found Izu Akuza who had both time and space in the box to take a shot.
But TP Rehenesh was up to the task; the goalkeeper’s outstretched leg kept the score goalless.
In the second-half, NorthEast United, determined to open the scoring in front of their home supporters, took their game a notch higher.
Marchino’s corner almost crept into Subrata Paul’s goal in the 55th minute.
Three minutes later, Danilo Cezario found himself clear on goal but the forward could only toe-poke the ball wide.
Jamshedpur did eventually respond. Azuka, Jamshedpur’s best player on the night, came close again. His acrobatic shot from a corner was deflected for a corner.
Jamshedpur were dealt a heavy blow with about a quarter of the match still left to be played.
Andrey Bikey, who had just come on as a substitute, was sent off for a high-booted challenge on Luiz Paez Restrepo.
Sensing an opportunity, NorthEast United piled on the pressure but the visitors defended well to return home with a point.