NorthEast United FC (NEUFC) on Saturday made a winning start to their Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2020-21 campaign after a 1-0 win against Mumbai City FC at Tilak Maidan Stadium in Vasco on Saturday.
Mumbai dominated the ball in the opening period but lost Ahmed Jahouh after he was given his marching orders in the 43rd minute of the game.
According to a match report, the second half of the game saw Kwesi Appiah score the only goal of the match from the penalty spot to help the Highlanders bag three points.
Ahmed Jahouh was sent off towards the end of the first half and the red card handed NEUFC the initiative.
Kwesi Appiah put the Highlanders ahead from the penalty spot just four minutes into the second half.
After a subdued start to the game, Mumbai City FC began to dominate possession without making it count and were mostly restricted to shots from distance by NEUFC.
Rowllin Borges managed to execute a sweetly struck volley from the edge of the penalty box for Mumbai in the 23rd minute of the game.
However, Subhasish Roy, the goalkeeper of NorthEast United FC, had his angles covered and managed to comfortably see off the danger.
The entire complexion of the contest, though, changed two minutes from halftime and the momentum shifted in NEUFC favour after Jahouh was shown a straight red by the referee because of a lunging tackle from behind.
The Islanders to their credit stayed true to their game plan and intricate style of play despite the sending-off as the teams went into the break with the match still goalless.
NEUFC began the second half on the front foot and were rewarded with a penalty after Borges was adjudged to have handled the ball inside the box.
Appiah stepped up to the spot to take the penalty and calmly sent the goalkeeper the wrong way to give his side the lead in 49th minute.
The Highlanders grew in confidence after going ahead and began enjoying more possession than they had in the first half.
However, Mumbai were not about to go down without a fight and they nearly equalised through Sarthak Golui, whose header from a corner went wide of the target in the 66th minute.
Mumbai City FC continued to push forward in search of a goal but NorthEast defended resolutely to thwart them time and again.
Substitute Farukh Choudhary managed to get away a shot on goal for the Islanders in the 83rd minute but NEUFC defence came up with a big block to ensure that they kept their lead intact.
NEUFC could have put the game to bed three minutes into injury time when they won possession and attacked at pace.
Substitute Imran Khan even got his shot away, but his effort didn’t test the Mumbai goalkeeper. His miss didn’t matter though as NEUFC smartly ran down the clock to pick up the win and maximum points.
After the win, NEUFC in its Twitter handle said: “We had to work hard for it and work hard we did! An exemplary performance at the back and @kwes1appiah’s calm finish from the spot helps us get one over @MumbaiCityFC.”
FT’ | We had to work hard for it and work hard we did! ??
— NorthEast United FC (@NEUtdFC) November 21, 2020