NorthEast United FC scored two quick goals in the dying minutes to down a 10-man Chennaiyin FC 2-0 in the Hero ISL match here at the Indira Gandhi Stadium on Tuesday.
The match witnessed unsportsmanlike conduct and frequent altercations between the players and the coaches.
The result was encouraging for the host as it picked up the first points of the tournament. NEUFC’s marquee player Simao Sabrosa, who made his ISL debut coming in as a 74th-minute substitute, scored from the spot in the 90th minute.
Another substitute, Nicolas Velez of Argentina doubled the lead in the injury-time (90+4 minute).
Referee Conger Mathew was the busiest man on the ground, flashing 10 yellow cards and a straight red to Chennaiyin FC midfielder Harmanjot Khabra.
There was less action on the pitch as the host, which had the greater share of possession, ran out of ideas in the striking zone while the visitor preferred to play a waiting game.
NEUFC clearly missed the services of a quality striker as the front duo of Frenchman Dimonsy Kamara and Ghanaian Francis Dadzie couldn’t breach the opposition defence, manned efficiently by French-Italian combination of Bernard Mendy and Alessandro Potenza.
But the host managed to get a penalty in the 38th minute when the referee hauled up Potenza for fouling Cedric Hengbert. Kamara messed it up; his feeble spot-kick was saved by Chennaiyin custodian Edel Bete.
The match witnessed ugly scenes after the penalty, resulting in Khabra being sent off for violent conduct in the 40th minute.
Tension spills over
The tension on the field spilled over to the technical area as Cesar Farias and Marco Materazzi indulged in heated exchanges before the assistant referees intervened to calm them down.
The second session was no exception as there was hardly any improvement on the pitch.
The host altered its attack, bringing in influential striker Velez in the 54th minute and Simao, who returned from an injury lay-off in the final quarter of the match.
The second penalty happened in the 90th minute when Simao was tackled from behind by Chennaiyin’s Jayesh Rane inside the box. Velez, who was released by a pass from Sanju Pradhan, finished superbly to spark wild celebrations in the NorthEast camp.
Playing its second match in four days, the Chennaiyin think-tank rested its regular attacking combination of Colombian Stiven Mendoza and Brazilian Elano Blumer.
The duo was introduced in the second half, but couldn’t do much.
The result: NorthEast United FC 2 (Simao 90-pen, Velez 90+4) bt Chennaiyin FC 0.