Phalguni Singh’s second half goal was enough for ISL side Northeast United FC to overcome a spirited Indian Army FC 1-0 in the first quarterfinal of the Durand Cup in Guwahati on Thursday. Phalguni scored the winner in the 51st minute. Indian Army heach coach L. Anthony Ramesh made two changes to the starting line-up with captain Bhabindra Malla Thakuri back after suspension in goal and Liton Shil in the place of Alwin E. Northeast’s Juan Pedro Benali made five changes to his starting XI with Soraisham Dinesh Singh, Gaurav Bora, Gani Ahmed Nigam, Redeem Tlang and Konsam Phalguni Singh coming in.
Northeast United settled down quickly and controlled possession in the middle of the pitch. The Indian Army were sticking to their plan of defending with numbers and being aggressive in the counter attacks.
Liton Shil tested NEUFC keeper Mirshad with a long range effort and minutes later he combined with Rahul Ramakrishnan but the latter’s effort whisked past the post.
NEUFC dominated the next exchanges and troubled the Army defence. Ibson Melo set up French midfielder Romain Philippoteaux inside the box and his curler came back off the crossbar.
Rochharzela had a golden opportunity to give NEUFC the lead but the forward lashed his effort over the crossbar. The Indian Army started to press high up the field forcing mistakes out of NEUFC and started to play some attacking football.
Shil showed some excellent skills to dodge two defenders inside the box but his shot was saved by Mirshad.
Samir Murmu had a chance to give the Army men the lead in first half injury time as Christopher Kamei found the forward free but his side footed effort went wide as both teams went into the break goalless.
Juan Pedro introduced Manvir Singh and Nestor Roger in the second half and the substitutes set up the first goal of the match.
Nestor’s sublime cross into the box found Manvir who headed it into the path of Phalguni who poked it past the goalkeeper and two rushing defenders to give NEUFC the lead.
Indian Army increased the intensity trying to come back into the game but were lacking in the final third of the pitch.
The Army side piled the pressure on the NEUFC defence but the Highlanders soaked everything to keep their one goal lead intact and qualify for the semifinals.
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