2020-21 Indian Super League, Regular Season
  • Suhair VP (34')
  • Lalengmawia (45'+1')

ISL 2020-21: NorthEast United beat Kerala Blasters to seal playoffs berth

Suhair VP scored the crucial goal for NorthEast United FC. Faheem Hussain / Sportzpics for ISL

First-half goals from Suhair VP and Lalengmawia helped NorthEast United FC confirm a place in the Indian Super League (ISL) playoffs with a 2-0 win over Kerala Blasters FC on Friday. This is only the second time NEUFC have made the top four. The last time they achieved the feat was in 2018-19, when they finished fourth.

The opening goal followed a double defensive lapse by the Blasters, as Suhair got at the end of a Khassa Camara through ball, and rounded the goalkeeper after the covering defender had fluffed his clearance. They doubled their lead with one of most spectacular goals of the season as Lalengmawia fierce strike from outside the box hit the crossbar before crossing the line.

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The win helped NEUFC go third in the table with 33 points, three clear of FC Goa, who play Hyderabad tomorrow in a knockout for the fourth spot. If Goa win, they will finish above them based on their superior goal difference. If they draw, they will finish fourth, while Hyderabad can only qualify with a win.

The result also concludes a remarkable turnaround for the club under Khalid Jamil, who took over as interim coach following Gerard Nus Casanova's departure 11 games in. Since Nus' departure in January, NorthEast have gone nine games unbeaten, getting 17 points from them, and most memorably, secured wins against both ATK Mohun Bagan and Mumbai City FC along the way.

The loss concludes a disappointing season for KBFC, who finish 10th with 17 points, with just three wins from 20 games, and the second worst defensive record of the season.

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