NorthEast United played football of a delightful kind. The Highlanders passed with precision and finished with panache as they defeated Odisha FC 3-1 at the Tilak Maidan Stadium, Vasco da Gama (Goa), on Sunday.
The win took them to 26 points and to the third spot of the ISL table, behind Mumbai City (34) and ATK Mohun Bagan (33). It also brightened their chances of making the playoffs. Odisha remains at the bottom, with nine points.
Luis Machado struck twice and Deshorn Brown once for NorthEast, while Bradden Inman pulled one back for Odisha. All the three goals scored by NorthEast were lovely.
The first of those came in the ninth minute. From the right flank, V.P. Suhair gave a fine pass to Ashutosh Mehta, whose superb cross found Machado inside the box. The Portuguese winger volleyed the ball home with flourish.
Ten minutes later, Brown’s pace helped NorthEast double the lead. After receiving an excellent through ball from the hard-working Man-of-the-Match Federico Gallego, he pierced the defence and drove the ball between Odisha’s bewildered goalkeeper Arshdeep Singh.
Machado made it 3-0 with a lovely header on the 24h minute. Gallego had a leg in that goal too, as he came up with a splendid cross.
The Highlanders had taken control, with Gallego reigning supreme in the midfield. Odisha, however, was able to reduce the margin at the stroke of half-time, as the NorthEast defence was caught napping. Inman slotted the ball home off an assist from Daniel Lalhlimpuia.
After all that heady stuff, the second half paled, though it saw Gurjinder Kumar getting a second-yellow card and NorthEast being reduced to 10 men with four minutes left in normal time.
The result: NorthEast United 3 (Luis Machado 9 & 24, Deshorn Brown 19) bt Odisha FC 1 (Bradden Inman 45).