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ISL Results: NorthEast United keep semifinal hopes alive following 3-2 win over Pune

Photo Courtesy: ISL's official website
Photo Courtesy: ISL’s official website

NorthEast United have boosted their chances of reaching the semifinals following a narrow 3-2 win over Pune City in Guwahati.

Although Nicolás Vélez’s early opener was immediately cancelled out by James Bailey, strikes from Diomansy Kamara and André Bikey proved enough as Pune were only able to pull a goal back through Mutu in the closing stages of the game.

The hosts got off to a flying start, opening the scoring through Vélez after only four minutes in into the match.

Bruno Herrero, after pinching the ball off Didier Zokora, picked out Victor Mendy with an excellent pass, and the Senegalese international in turn laid the ball Velez, who made no mistakes as he clinically slotted a well struck effort past Arindam Bhattacharya.

NorthEast United’s joy, however, was short-lived as Pune City grabbed the equaliser after only three minutes through Bailey.

Jackichand Singh sent the ball towards Zokora and the Ivorian squared the ball to Bailey, who found the nets with a beautiful curling effort past Rehenesh.

The Highlanders nearly gave an instant reply to Pune equaliser, but Kamara was unable to direct Herrero’s cross towards goal.

NorthEast, however, did not have to wait long to retake the lead as Kamara, making up for his earlier miss, found the net in the 18th minute.

A quick counter from the hosts resulted in Mendy releasing Velez on the right wing. The Argentine’s cross evaded Bhattacharya and drifted towards Kamara at the far post, and the Senegalese international tapped the ball into an empty net.

Pune City nearly again grabbed the equaliser at the half hour mark, after they were awarded a free-kick just outside the box. But the visitors were unlucky as Nicky Shorey’s free-kick, which took a deflection off Adrian Mutu, drifted just inches wide of the far post.

Pune’s evening went from bad to worse after NorthEast United doubled their lead through André Bikey just before the half-time.

NorthEast were awarded a free-kick after Velez was fouled by Govin Singh just outside the box. Herrero’s free-kick found Bikey, and the Cameroonian found the nets with a simple header past Bhattacharya.

Lenny Rodrigues got a good chance to pull one back for Pune in the 49th minute, after Kalu Uche laid a good ball for him. But the midfielder unable to keep his composure as his effort flew over the crossbar.

Pune boss David Platt brought on Fanai Lalrempuia in place of Uche in the 57th minute and the Mizo midfielder nearly made an immediate impact as his effort narrowly missed the far post, following a good assist from Mutu.

The visitors were finally able to pull a goal back in the 86th minute through Mutu, who managed to find the back of net via an excellent free-kick.

Pune pressed on for the equaliser, but they were unable to get past the hosts’ defence, and the match finally ended 3-2 in NorthEast United’s favour.

While this result means that Pune City’s hopes of making it to the semifinals are effectively over, NorthEast’s place in the last four of the 2015 ISL is also still not guaranteed, with the John Abraham owned side still needing Chennaiyin to lose their final league fixture.

 

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