NorthEast United FC secured a much deserved draw in their seventh match in the Indian Super League match against Chennaiyin FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium, Chennai. The full time score was 2-2 with Elano scoring both the goal for the home side and Len & Koke scoring for the visitors. The draw maintained Chennaiyin’s second position on the table while the Highlanders moved up to fourth position.

NorthEast United changed the formation for this match and played with 4-2-3-1 formation with Keene as the lone striker up top while Chennaiyin FC played with 4-3-1-2 with Valencia and Jeje up top and Elano as the playmaker. The first 20 minutes was a cagey affair with most of the game being played in the midfield. The hosts started asserting themselves with Elano the pick of the players. Elano open the deadlock at 25′ minutes when he bulleted in a header off a cross from Denson Devadas. NorthEast goalkeeper Rehenesh could not do much with that effort as the header was precisely placed by Elano.

Pressure was piling on the Highlanders, however NorthEast United refused to back down and scored the equaliser on 38′ minutes when debutant Len netted off a superb volley from Keene. It was a very incisive finish that directed both teams into half time on level terms.

The second period saw Chennaiyin FC continue to pile on the pressure on the NorthEast goal. On 56′ minutes, Rehenesh made a world class save from Elano. However, Elano got his eighth goal of ISL when he dribbled past two Northeast defenders at the edge of the box before unleashing a shot that crept in at the far post.

It was not enough though as Northeast refused to give up. Koke latched onto a poor clearance by Bernard Mendy before blasting a stunning volley past Gennaro Bracigliano’s in the 85th minute to make it 2-2. The visitors had a couple of chances more to script a sensational win but that was not to be with Koke and Do scuffing their shots wide.

In the end, NorthEast United held on to secure a much deserved draw against one of the favorites of the league. Next up, NorthEast United FC will host in FC Pune City on November 15 and Chennaiyin FC will be on the road to face FC Pune City on November 11.

NorthEast United coach Ricki Herbert said: “I’m happy that we gave him a chance and he has acquitted himself well by scoring his first goal of the tournament. He certainly played well,”

On the Chennai side, he added “(Elano) is a wonderful player who has great talent. They have a good team and a strong team,” Herbert said. “(Mikaël) Silvestre has played for Manchester United and the list can go on. But yes, I have got massive respect for the player who has amazing technical ability but I’m extremely disappointed in conceding the goals that he scored today.”

Man of the Match: NorthEast United FC striker Koke scored a spectacular equaliser and was correctly acknowledged the ‘Hero of the match’. Koke was heavily involved with all the attacking play of the NorthEast United and was one of the bright spots for the Highlanders.

Chennaiyin Team: Bracigliano, Dhana, Silvestre, Mendy, Gouramangi, Denson, Materazzi (70′, Djordjic), Khabra, Elano, Valencia (64′, Maurice), Jeje (65′, Balwant).

NorthEast United Team: Rehenesh, Robin, Capdevilla, Garcia, Khongjee, Mtonga, Milan (79′, Boithang) , Felipe, Len (61′, Alen), Koke, Keene (77′, Do).