Sauharda Karki discusses three talking points about the Indian Super League game that finished NorthEast United 0-1 Bengaluru FC
Another loss for the Highlanders, this time in a game where they did enjoy a considerable amount of possession and plenty of shots on goal. A game of end to end football, the match had quite a few talking points.
Goncalves key to the backline
Although Joao de Deus’ back four setup function well as a unit, the performance of the Portuguese defender stood out from the rest. It was a great display overall from the experienced center back throughout the game. NorthEast United’s approach with the early press by the frontline against Bengaluru defenders meant there would be a lot more aerials and passes behind the back line to deal with through the course of the game. Goncalves dealt well with the aerial threat and was excellent when tracking opposition forwards moving into spaces behind the defensive line.
The strong Portuguese defender was also brilliant in handling the forwards in isolated 1v1 situations, and made some crucial interceptions and clearances in the game. On the other side of the pitch, Goncalves did manage to get on the end of a couple of corners, while most of the NEU players still showed poor movement in offensive set pieces. The performance undoubtedly reflects how important the defender can be for the side for the remainder of the season.
Purposeful attacks down the middle
The initial few games for NEU went by with the squad still looking uncertain about their attacking approach, and ultimately resorting to early crosses into the box. The approach taken by de Deus’ side to build attacks and move play through central areas in the final third seems to suit the team. With Narzary and Doungel moving narrower, the NEU side created plenty of attacking chances down the middle. The initial narrow shape in the 4-2-3-1 also allowed the fullbacks to push into wide areas and put threatening crosses into the box in late phases of buildup.
The approach also allows plenty of the ball to go through Marcinho, stationed in the number 10 role, who looked most likely to make something happen for NEU in the final third. Overall, this approach to play through the middle brought unpredictability on the offensive end and favored chance creation. NEU had an impressive 17 attempts with 7 on target in the match, and better finishing of chances would have perhaps resulted in a very different end to the game. To add to the woes of the Highlanders forwards in front of goal, Bengaluru’s replacement goalkeeper Mawia Ralte showed a good display in goal, undoubtedly surprising most spectators on the night.
The error that cost NEU the game
Through most periods of the match, the side performed well on either end of the pitch and enjoyed a decent share of the ball. It was that one error in the NEU defensive effort that ultimately gave the game away. Just a minute into the second half, goalkeeper Rehenesh‘s misplaced pass was picked up by Bengaluru’s Udanta Singh who set up forward Miku. The forward dispatched the setup with a neatly tucked finish into the bottom corner.
The single goal was enough to ensure the win for Bengaluru and take the side to the top of the ISL standings. The additional goal to NorthEast United’s negative goal difference saw the side drop to 7th place on the table.
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