Until they played against the NorthEast United FC on Monday, Delhi Dynamos had won only one match out of nine in the Hero Indian Super League. They knew pretty well that another loss could literally rule them out of contention for the knock-out stage of the tournament. The concerned Delhi coach Harm van Veldhoven, therefore, made tactical changes in his team’s starting line-up for their away game at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium Guwahati. He included Francisco Fernandes, Bruno Arias, Henrique Dinis and Gustavo Dos Santos for Junker, Del Piero, Adil and Raymaekers. NEUFC have also slipped after a series of losses lately and their coach Ricki Herbert too made four changes to bring in Seminlen Doungel, Issac Chansa, Zodingliana Ralte and Do Dong-Hyun in places of Alen Deory, Durga Boro, Felipe de Crasto and Massamba Sambou. While Veldhoven’s tactics paid dividends, NEUFC suffered another loss and hit the bottom of the league table. Delhi came away with an impressive 2-1 victory and managed to stay in the tournament’s semifinal stages. DD scored both their goals in the first half through Marmentini and Hans Mulder while NEUFC’s Mtonga cut the margin by one goal by a late second half goal. Both sides had the ignominy of playing with 10-men. While DD’s Shovik Chakraborty was given the marching orders in the first half injury-time, NEUFC’s Aiborlang Khongjee was aked to leave the field in 83rd minute.
Delhi Dynamos scored their first goal within six minutes from the start, when Gustavo Marmentini came charging in from right and shot a powerful left-footed volley which struck the underside of the crosspiece before bouncing into the goal. The early goal brought an enhanced speed in the play and in a counter attack in the 11th minute; NorthEast United almost got the equalizer. The resourcefulness of Koke was evident as he managed to intercept a pass and powered a shot to the goal around the DD goalkeeper Kristof Van Hout but Koke got unlucky as the ball could only hit the post. Delhi shot into a 2-0 lead in the 14th minute after a fine display of football skills from the DD forwards. Marmentini went around one defender and passed the ball to Mulder, who was just outside the box. Even before NEUFC could get into their positions, Mulder slotted the ball into the far corner. After trailing by 2-0 in the first 15 minutes, NorthEast could still create chances for themselves in the first half. Isaac Chansa took a free-kick from right and Zodingliana Ralte had a nice ball. But Miguel Garcia flicked the ball wide. Koke missed a certain opportunity after a pass from Chansa came to him in front of the goal. But Koke’s strike went over the bar, when he had only the goalkeeper to beat. Delhi got another scoring chance in the 30th minute with Shylo Malswamtulunga having only Rehenesh in front but Shylo’s shot was cleared away by the NEUFC goalkeeper. Rehenesh made another save, when Marmentini sent a pass to Francis Fernandes but Fernandes couldn’t beat Rehenesh. In the first half injury time, Ralte was brought down by Souvik Chakraborty and second yellow card to Chakraborty meant that Delhi Dynamos had to play with ten men.
The second half began with NorthEast attacking the Delhi goal. Ralte sent a perfect cross to Seminlen Doungel but Doungel’s header looped over the crossbar. The Delhi goalkeeper made another reflex save after he parried away the initial shot from Dong-Hyun Do but when Chansa struck the rebound, Delhi’s Belgian goalkeeper was ready. There were several chances that NEUFC got and they put Delhi under immense pressure but the finishing from NEUFC was disastrous Finally NorthEast United cut down the margin, when Koke’s free-kick was headed in by Mtonga in the 80th minute. NEUFC also lost a man in the 83rd minute, when Aiborlang Khongjee picked up his second yellow card. With less than five minutes remaining, both sides tried to score but goalkeepers on either side came up with good saves. In the injury time, Yanes missed a touch on Koke’s pass and another opportunity was wasted by NEUGC. As the final whistle blew Delhi took the match 2-1 from NEUFC and jumped up one spot to the seventh position in the league table.
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