NorthEast United FC defeated Kerala Blasters FC by 2-0 at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium to cap off Saturday's doubleheader of matchweek 21 of the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 on Saturday. As a result of this win, the Highlanders have increased the competition for the sixth playoff spot, as they have jumped to the seventh place with 23 points to their name from 20 matches. They have five wins, eight draws and seven losses to their name. Chennaiyin FC beats them to the sixth place with 24 points from as many games, whereas Bengaluru FC and East Bengal FC breathe down their neck with 22 and 21 points to their name respectively, as per an ISL press release.

As for the Kerala Blasters FC, their woes have only worsened with this loss. Mohammedan Sporting Crowned I-League 2023–24 Champions, To Get Promotion to ISL 2024–25 Season.

They have qualified for the playoffs as a result of a formidable first half of the campaign. However, four defeats in their last five matches certainly do not hold them in good stead before the next round of the tournament begins. They have a total of 30 points after nine wins, three draws and nine losses, but they will have to bounce back.

For a large chunk of the game though, it appeared that the two teams would settle for a point each. The deadlock just would not look as it would break, but it took two of NorthEast United FC's in-form attackers in Nestor Albiach and Jithin MS to net once each in the last 10-odd minutes of the game to secure three points for their team.

Nestor's goal in the 84th minute came as a result of the Highlanders adopting a direct approach under the watch of central defender Michel Zabaco. The Spaniard took matters in his own hands and delivered a sharp long ball from the backline that Nestor brought down near the box and glided ahead before hammering it home to open the scoring.

Kerala Blasters FC, keen to regain momentum, began searching for the equaliser with greater vigour, exposing spaces in their own defence. For the Highlanders, this came as a chance to double their lead and bag the all-important win, which was extremely critical for their playoff prospects.

Jithin bagged the game lock, stock, and barrel for them, converting a fairly straightforward assist by Phalguni Singh from an extremely close range into the bottom left corner through a deft touch from his right foot in the added time of the second half.

Kerala Blasters FC had many chances coming their way, attempting 13 shots, driven primarily by the trio of Daisuke Sakai, Danish Farooq, and Ishan Pandita. However, a lack of neatness and efficiency upfront acted against them in this engaging encounter. Mom or Coach? Video of a Mother Guiding and Instructing Young Indian Footballers Goes Viral On Social Media.

Key Performer of the Match

Nestor Albiach (NorthEast United FC)

The Spanish playmaker will complete 18 out of his 26 passes, and though he did not record notable numbers in other metrics, his timely goal was critical to determine the eventual result of this contest Kerala Blasters FC will next play Hyderabad FC on April 12, whereas NorthEast United FC will lock horns with Chennaiyin FC on April 9.

Brief Scores

NorthEast United FC 2 (Nestor Albiach 84', Jithin MS 90+1') - 0 Kerala Blasters FC.

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