Simao’s penalty helps NorthEast United stun Atletico de Kolkata

Simao Sabrosa converted an early penalty as NorthEast United FC put it across Atletico de Kolkata 1-0 in the Hero Indian Super League clash in Kolkata on Saturday.

The win helped NorthEast United move out of the bottom of the table. They now have 10 points to their credit, the same as Atletico de Kolkata and Chennaiyin FC but with inferior goal average of minus five, they will have to settle for the seventh spot on the table just above Kerala Blasters (8 points). Significantly, NorthEast United are just four points adrift of leaders FC Goa.

NorthEast United got a dream start when they were awarded a penalty inside the first seven minutes. Carlos Lopez, handed a start by coach Cesar Farias, was pushed from behind by Kolkata defender Ofentse Nato during a corner-kick and the referee awarded a spot kick.

Marquee player Simao Sabrosa, who had scored within seconds of taking the field in the previous match against Delhi Dynamos, kept his cool to convert the penalty and put his team ahead.

Atletico de Kolkata have struggled this season and even when playing at home they have not been dominant. The hosts did not have rhythm in their play and it were the visitors who were creating more chances.

In the 28th minute, Bruno Arias won a ball off Augustin Fernandes and played it for Nicolas Velez whose drive just missed the target.

Velez was the more dangerous striker for NorthEast but he lacked the crucial touch in front of goal. He did manage to ‘score’ in the 33rd minute but the Argentine striker was ruled to be in an off-side position.

In the second session, Atletico de Kolkata were more purposeful. Sameegh Doutie’s corner found Arnab Mondal who bravely tried to head the ball, but despite a clash between goalkeeper TP Rehenesh and Lopez, there was no damage done to the NorthEast goal.

At the other end, Velez continued with his dangerous forays but like the first session, the final touch was missing. In the 53rd minute, a brilliant long ball from Silas saw Velez fail to control the ball. And when he got at the right end of a ball from Bruno in the 61st minute, he had to score from a narrow angle, which he tried and failed.

The closest that Atletico de Kolkata got to drawing level was in the 66th minute. Borja Fernandez played the ball for Mohammad Rafique who crossed it into the box. It looked like an inch-perfect ball for Iain Hume to slot into an inviting goal but Andre Bikey emerged out of nowhere to slide and take the ball away from Hume.

NorthEast United could have made it 2-0 in the third minute of added time. Diomansy Kamara played a pass for Francis Dadzie but despite being all alone with the goalkeeper, he could not get the better of Amrinder Singh.

That miss counted for nothing as NorthEast United continued their resurgence after losing three games in a row at the start of the league.

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