Bengaluru (Karnataka) [India], December 24: Bengaluru FC bounced back with a late equaliser by the 22-year-old Sivasakthi Narayanan to settle for a point after a 1-1 draw against NorthEast United at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 to start off the Sunday doubleheader. The two teams, seeking much-needed momentum, commenced the proceedings on Christmas Eve as the City of Gardens decked up beautifully to celebrate the festive season. However, celebrations didn’t come easy for the Blues early in the match, who faltered in their numerous attempts to draw the first blood in this encounter, as per an ISL press release. Liston Colaco Banned For Four Games, Akash Mishra, Greg Stewart Handed Three-Match Suspensions in Aftermath of Heated Mumbai City vs Mohun Bagan Super Giant ISL 2023-24 Clash.

Javi Hernandez and Ryan Williams, who replaced Slavko Damjanovic in the starting XI, cam together to keep the NorthEast United FC defence on their toes. Williams was finding it easy to get into the wider areas of the 18-yard box, delivering quick, short passes for the onrushing Hernandez and Sunil Chhetri in the middle. However, neither Hernandez nor Chhetri was successful in shooting on target, as they missed rather golden opportunities to get a lead with their respective efforts in the 17th and the 47th minutes with the ball sailing above the posts.

For a long stretch of the proceedings, it appeared that a drab, goalless draw was on the cards. NorthEast United FC did not make many chances, but one particular long-distance shot from Jithin M.S. in the 56th minute required a fully stretched Gurpreet Singh Sandhu to palm the ball away. Steadily, they capitalised on a Bengaluru FC backline that was arguably dropping their guard, as the fleet-footed Parthib Gogoi earned a spot-kick for the Highlanders in the 86th minute.

Up stepped Nestor Albiach to take the penalty, as he shot it with such firm power and precision that Sandhu couldn’t help his team’s cause this time around. However, what that goal did was it reinvigorate the spirits of the home side, who perhaps realised the repercussions that could have come with another home defeat. They pressed all their buttons, attacking the box from lateral areas, and a curling, accurate cross by Jessel Carneiro from the left flank was met perfectly and nodded home by substitute Sivasakthi to salvage a point for the Gerard Zaragoza-coached side.

-Key Performer of the Match

Jessel Carneiro (Bengaluru FC)

Jessel made a whopping 57 passes, completing 45 of them in this game. He made two clearances and interceptions each, in addition to tackling once, and creating a couple of goal-scoring opportunities to deliver an all-round effort. His assist for Sivasakthi’s goal was both timely and skilful, and the former Kerala Blasters FC star will be hoping to build on this performance going ahead in the season.

-What’s next for both teams?

NorthEast United FC will host FC Goa on December 29 for their next fixture, whereas Bengaluru FC have capped off their first-half of the campaign with this match. ISL 2023–24: Noah Sadaoui’s Brace Helps FC Goa Register 4–1 Win Over Mohun Bagan Super Giant.

*Brief Scores 

Bengaluru FC 1 (Sivasakthi Narayanan 90+5′) – 1 NorthEast United FC (Nestor Albiach 86′).

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