For the first time in 5 years we saw a NorthEast United side that looked lethal and had the confidence to own the pitch. Although their timid and under achieving reputation preceded them and Chennai might have discounted them on this account, NEU FC left no doubt in the minds of ISL followers that this was a different team and this was going to be a season with a difference.
Chennaiyin ticked off the score board as early as the 4th minute when an in-swinging corner bounced off Borges’s shoulder and wet inside the net. Starting off with an own goal within 5 minutes seemed like a bad start for NE, but they never fell back. It must be the level of confidence and inspiration that the team had that made them push on.
Both teams were pushing hard on their opponents and both looking to counter on break. Coach Gregoy on his part switched Thoi Singh for Jeje upfront and made Calderon play in the midfield. Thoi singh made the most of his start as he got inside the box quite easily. The second goal for Chennai came from his feet, more so as a result of confusion that technique. On the other end, another goal keeping mistake gave Ogbeche take a shot that pulled one back in NE’s favor.
At 2-1 both teams had a lot to play for. Chennai continued their push which seemed to have rattled the NE side as they started making too many rash tackles resulting in an unwarranted Yellow on the name of new signing and ex-Liverpool Federico Gallego. The refereeing would remain substandard and inconsistent for the rest of the evening.
Chennai soon got their 3rd goal putting NE behind again by 2 goals. Though this was the 4th goal of the game, it was the first goal that was actually built, played, and shot as planned. One would think the game would slow down but all that the goal had done was fuel NE’s desire and strengthen their resolve. Ogbeche found himself at the end of an areal through ball from Gallego which he chipped across Karanjit Singh towards the far post to take NE to 3-2. Five minutes later, another areal through ball from midfield, this time from Borges would find Ogbeche which he made no mistake in slotting home. Completing his hatrick and bringing NE level with Chennai. All this and the clock was yet to reach 40 minutes.
As the team walked out of the tunnel in the second half, there seemed no difference in the intent. Both looking to kill. It was the Highlanders who looked to have got their noses in front as they built multiple attacks, but the Chennai defense now seemed to be a little more coordinated. The coordination and discipline would bare little fruit as a cross from a Red shirt would fly inside the box and onto captain Mailson’s feet. Mailson’s failed clearing would put the ball right on Borges’s feet. Though at well over 30 yards, Borges decides to take a shot and fires the ball into the bottom right corner well beyond Karanjit’s reach. An assist and the winner from 30 yards completed Borges’s redemption for conceding the own goal.