Guwahati, Dec 11 (IANS): Two goals in the first half led to Hyderabad FC being held to a 1-1 draw by NorthEast United FC at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati in the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 on Sunday.
NorthEast United had control over the proceedings right from the start. Inspired by the dynamic duo of Nestor Albiach and Romain Philippoteaux, they created chances aplenty as Hyderabad FC was forced back inside their box for a large chunk of the opening 15 minutes.
Nestor came within touching distance of netting the opener, thanks to a delightful chip that was thwarted with some concerted effort by the visitors’ backline in the sixth minute. The resulting corner led to Hyderabad FC attacker Joe Knowles nearly smashing the ball inside his own net.
However, this continued period of pressure bore fruits when Philippoteaux tried to slice home the ball, but it took a deflection off Hyderabad FC centre-back Nim Dorjee Tamang and rolled past Gurmeet Singh to finally give a tangible outcome to the efforts that the Highlanders delivered early on in the game.
Nestor was threatening for the Hyderabad FC unit tonight though, but he walked out of the game without getting a goal. There were multiple instances when he was a few yards out from hammering the ball past Gurmeet, but Thangboi Singto’s men rode their wave of luck to somehow survive the show that the Spaniard put up in the first half.
In the 37th minute, NorthEast United FC ended up hitting the crossbar twice, courtesy of a free kick by Tondonba Singh. The fullback was in fact the second of the players to take a shot that glanced off the posts, and Hyderabad FC made them pay for this with the help of Petteri Pennanen.
Mohammad Yasir was quick to pick the ball from a kickoff and fearlessly steer through the Highlanders’ midfield. Near the box, he played a curling grounded pass to Pennanen, who showed some fantastic finishing finesse to find the back of the net from a tight angle near the goalkeeper.
Yasir is arguably Hyderabad FC’s most bankable bet with the ball in their frontline and he needed to step up and manoeuvre a move that could put the NorthEast United defensive unit in a spot of bother.
The two teams consolidated their backlines simultaneously whilst searching for the winner, but the home team will eventually have to settle for the 1-1 score and take solace with the draw, which is partly down to their inability to capitalise on the countless chances they created in the opening phase of the game.
Petteri Pennanen, the Finnish 33-year-old was the star performer for Hyderabad FC as he completed 84% of his 32 passes. He also created two goal-scoring opportunities, made four crosses, and intercepted once in addition to notching the equaliser that spoke volumes of his calibre to keep a calm head and finish off moves to make the most of half-chances.
NorthEast United FC will next host Mohun Bagan Super Giant on December 15, whereas Hyderabad FC will square off against Odisha FC on December 17.