ISL 2023-24: NorthEast United end their campaign on a high with a feisty 3-0 victory over Odisha FC

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Guwahati, April 13 (IANS) NorthEast United FC scored three goals in the first half to bow out of the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 on a high with a resounding 3-0 victory against Odisha FC at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium here on Saturday night. Though the Highlanders were unable to qualify for the playoffs, they gave a good account of the progressive steps they have taken in this campaign by recording an overwhelming victory against the Juggernauts, who succumbed to their third loss in their last five games in the league. Sergio Lobera & Co. hence finished the league season with 39 points and will be battling in the playoffs for a place in the semifinal. The Highlanders, who were last in the table in 2022-23, round off this campaign in the seventh spot with 26 points from 22 matches to their name. It was a clinical outing for the Highlanders, and young attacker Parthib Gogoi opened the scoring for them in this dominant performance. Gogoi had started the season by scoring in each of their first three league games. He brought curtains down to the campaign with a goal to his name, albeit in a different style. Renowned for his out-of-the-box efforts, on Saturday night, Parthib tapped in a low cross in the 12th minute to start the scoring for the Highlanders. Four minutes later, the home team doubled their lead, and it was their Spanish talisman Nestor Albiach who swung into action for the same. Parthib, lively in the final third, laid the ball up for Nestor, who carried it into the Odisha FC box with effortless ease and put it past Lalthuammawia Ralte to round off a superb solo effort. The Juggernauts had a chance to pull a goal back soon afterwards. Odisha FC attacker Pranjil Bhumij drew a foul inside the 18-yard box in the 24th minute, but Roy Krishna’s shot from the spot was saved in the bottom left corner by NorthEast United FC goalkeeper Mirshad Michu. This was the first time that Krishna missed a penalty in his ISL career, having converted each of his previous 10 efforts. The Highlanders made them pay for this slip-up, with Phalguni Singh getting his name on the scoresheet in the added time of the first half. Gogoi’s cross inside the centre of the box was lapped upon and netted in by Phalguni to bag his team’s third goal of the night, and effectively hand his team a formidable lead in the proceedings. NorthEast United FC can take heart from the fact that they have plenty of positives to build upon in the next season, whereas Odisha FC would arguably wonder why their impeccable season has been derailing gradually, especially in such a critical juncture of the season. With this match, NorthEast United FC’s campaign comes to an end whereas Odisha FC will be competing in the ISL 2023-24 playoffs next week. –IANS bsk

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