ISL Semi Final: Mascia’s Penalty Helps NEUFC Win 2-1 against Bengaluru

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ISL KreedOn
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Juan Mascia’s penalty strike in injury time was the difference between the two as NorthEast United FC to a 2-1 advantage over Bengaluru FC in the first leg of their Indian Super League (ISL) 2018-19 semi-final tie.

Just when the game was about to end in a 1-1 draw, NorthEast United FC’s (NEUFC) Juan Mascia scored an emphatic stoppage-time spot-kick to clinch a crucial 2-1 win over Bengaluru FC in the first leg of their Indian Super League semifinal contest at the Indira Gandhi Stadium on Thursday.

The hosts went ahead in the 20th minute through a goal from Redeem Tlang. Bengaluru FC’s super-sub Xisco Hernandez cancelled out the advantage in the 82nd minute. However, the NEUFC drew the final blood in the concluding period.

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The Game

The home team were dominant right from the opening half, creating the first opportunity as early as the third minute. It was Lalthathanga Khawlhring who created the scoring opportunity only for the Goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu to make an impressive save. Nonetheless, NorthEast United kept on piling pressure.

The persistence paid off eventually. In the 20th minute, Bartholomew Ogbeche managed to find an unmarked Redeem on the right fland. The winger cooly collected the ball, dodged through some defenders into the box and struck a beautiful left-footed curling effort that sailed past a Gurpreet into the back of the goal. Tlang’s first-ever strike in the ISL, thus came at an important juncture of time.

Bengaluru tried their best to get back in the game. They even came close in the 24th minute after Dimas Delgado cracked a left-footer. However, the visitors could do anything but break NorthEast’s resilient defence.

The high-flying hosts suffered a major blow in the last minute of the first half after the inform Ogbeche was taken off courtesy of an injury.

Second Half

With no Ogbeche and a lead in hand, NorthEast shifted their gears to defensive gameplay after the break. They knew that Bengaluru would be pressing hard to restore the parity and they wanted to avoid just that.

And as expected, BFC did upped their attacking ante. Captain Sunil Chhetri and Miku repeatedly made moves into the attacking third. However, it was only in the 82nd minute that their efforts paid off. Chhetri was the architect this time, doing a one-two with Miku and breaking open into the opposition box.

The experienced striker then played an accurate cross towards an onrushing Xisco, who only had the easy task of tapping home the equaliser and a crucial away goal.

However, Carles Cuadrat’s men had not even ceased their celebration when the referee, Santosh Kumar, pointed towards the spot-kick after Harmanjot Khabra knocked Juan Mascia down inside his own box in the aftermath of a free-kick.

Mascia was cool enough to convert from the spot, pushing the ball beyond Gurpreet’s reach. The win against the ISL table toppers was enough to put the 22,000-strong home crowd into a celebration frenzy.

The two sides will next meet for the second leg of the semi-final clash on March 11.

Final result:

Semifinal 1 – North East United FC 2 (Redeem Tlang 20, Juan Mascia 90+3-pen) Bengaluru FC 1 (Xisco Hernandes 82).

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Monish Gadiya is a Pune-based sports author and designer at KreedOn. He is a thorough tech-enthusiast and believes that innovation is the answer to the problems prevalent in the society. Monish graduated from University of Pune with a degree in civil engineering before pursuing a post-graduate diploma course in intellectual property rights. A die-hard football fan, he has represented his college at various football competitions.

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