ISL: Blasters, NorthEast United play out goalless draw

Sahal Abdul Samad
Sahal Abdul Samad, right, missed a sitter. Photo: ISL

Fatorda: NorthEast United FC and Kerala Blasters FC shared the spoils after playing out a goalless draw in the Indian Super League (ISL) here on Thursday.

Both teams opened their account after having lost their opening fixtures by identical 2-4 margin.

Blasters manager Ivan Vukomanovic handed young Vincy Barretto an ISL debut on the right wing, while Enes Sipovic made his debut in yellow at the heart of defence.

NorthEast United, also lining up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, dropped goal-scorer from the last game, Mathias Coureur and opted for 24-year-old Australian centre-back Patrick Flottmann.

While neither side could carve out clear-cut chances in the opening exchanges, NorthEast did look threatening a couple of times.

V P Suhair was the architect of Deshorn Brown and Khassa Camara getting half-chances to convert. The latter did slice a couple over the net from distance.

Hernan Santana
NorthEast United FC's Hernan Santana lets one rip. Photo: ISL

However, the highlight remained a right-footed free-kick from Hernan Santana that went inches above after Enes Sipovic had brought down Deshorn on the run.

At the half-hour mark, Blasters captain Jessel Carneiro swung in a cross that ultimately found Adrian Luna. His chip over the defensive line had Jorge Diaz almost head in the opener of the night.

Both teams remained compact in the first period as both sets of strikers found it incredibly tough to get going in the opposition half.

Five minutes into the second half, Sahal Abdul Samad missed a golden opportunity. Vincy blazed through the pitch after winning a second ball. He squared it into the box but with only the keeper to beat, Sahal grazed it wide.

Vincy kept trying hard to help his forwards but playmaker Adrian Luna was not clinical enough in the box. Both managers switched personnel with Alvaro Vazquez and Coureur arriving into the game for Blasters and NorthEast respectively.

In a change of formation, Sahal was taken off for wing-back Nishu Kumar, returning after being sidelined for up to 10 months through injury for the final quarter hour.

 Subhasish Roy Chowdhury
NorthEast United FC goalkeeper Subhasish Roy Chowdhury pulls off an acrobatic save. Photo: ISL

Blasters had another golden chance in the final minutes, courtesy a brilliant pass by Nishu but teammate Alvaro Vazquez's header was spectacularly saved by goalkeeper Subhasish Roy Chowdhury.

Blasters face arch-rivals Bengaluru FC next on Sunday.

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