There were no standout performers as NorthEast United picked up a 1-0 win against Hyderabad FC on Wednesday at the Balayogi Stadium.
It was a close game that seemed to go on and on and just as it looked like it was going to be another goalless draw in ISL, Jose Leudo's shot struck Shankar Sampingraj's hand inside the box and the visitors were awarded a penalty. Substitute Maximiliano Barreiro, who had come on after Asamoah Gyan suffered an unfortunate injury at the start of the second half, stepped up and slotted home to give NorthEast full points.
While neither goalkeeper was regularly troubled over the course of the ninety minutes, both defences impressed and were able to stifle the threat of the attackers in a composed manner.
It was Hyderabad who started on the front foot, with Marcelinho and Marko Stankovic looking especially dangerous. However, after the early pressure, there was a drop in intensity which helped the NorthEast backline that consisted of Mislav Komorski and Kai Heerings. The duo has formed a solid partnership at the back and on Wednesday they registered a second clean sheet for the season. Their first was against the lethal attack of Bengaluru FC.
The tides turned after the restart. Hyderabad started losing control of the game and Asamoah Gyan and co. grew into the match. Unfortunately for the marquee striker from Ghana, a groin injury forced him off the field.
His departure did not seem to affect the mentality of the team as they pushed for an opener. Hyderabad's defence had a tougher job in the second-half but they stood firm, until the 84th minute when Shankar's hand came in the way of Jose Leudo's shot and the goal.
It was a cruel way to lose a match, after holding on for so long. But NorthEast's second-half resurgence had them as the team more likely to find an opener as the game neared conclusion. In a game that was devoid of entertainment for the neutrals, NorthEast United edged past their opponents and got the job done, signalling an early push for the playoffs.