Northeast United Football Club defeated Indian Army Football Club by 1-0 in Guwahati to qualify for the semi-finals of the Durand Cup 2023. Both teams came to the quarter-finals without losing a single game in the group stage. However, Indian Army Football Club had to bow down to the highlanders as a lone goal from Konsam Phalguni Singh made all the difference in the game.
Both teams started with some nervous energy. But, the ISL team slowly started gaining the rhythm as the time progressed in the first half. However, it was the Indian Amry Football team's no. 10 Christopher Kamei who made the first attempt on goal in the tenth minute of the game. Liton Shil started the attack for them via a great cross for Christopher who fist played a one-two with Deepak Singh before shooting it from outside the box.
Post that it was all about the Highlanders in the next twenty minutes of the game. Romain Philippoteaux first hit the bar from just outside the box. Ibson Melo from the left made the cross to Romain to nearly score for the Northeast United FC in the 13th minute of the game. Then, it was Ibson Melo who took his chance to shoot from inside the box but was saved by Bhabindra Thakuri, the Indian Army Football team's goalie and captain.
Northeast United kept on attacking and looked for the first goal of the match as Rochharzela tried to get a cross in from the left but could not control the ball before it crossed the line. It was Romain Philippoteaux with a great pass from the middle but Rochharzela could not do justice to that in the 19th minute. Four minutes later, in the 23rd minute, Rochharzela again had the chance to score but skied the volley from an Ibson Melo pass. It was Philippoteaux again who lobed the ball towards Melo from a free-kick.
Post that Indian Army Football Team started building up some rhythm to get the ball back and counter-attack whenever the chance was given by NEUFC. In the 29th minute, Rahul Radhakrishnan made a great run from left but could not find Liton Shil with the cross as the ball was deflected by Zabaco Tome. Northeast United meantime kept on searching for the goal. In the 33rd minute, Rochharzela undercut the ball from the left to find Phalguni who crossed it on the right. But Redeem Tlang could not reach the ball before it went for a goal kick.
The last few minutes of the first half went to the Indian Army Football team who managed to create some chances to score. In the 36th minute, Liton Shil's cross found Samir Murmu who lobbed the ball over the bar. In the 41st minute, they had another chance courtesy of a mistake from NEUFC captain Gaurav Bora but experienced Zabaco Tome was there to clear the ball. During the added minutes, IAFT had the best chance of the half-time to make it 1-0 via a partnership between Samir Murmu and Christopher Kamei. A flying ball from Christopher from the left created the opportunity but Samir could not control the ball to go for a volley.
The second half started with Northeast United making a double change to bring Manvir Singh and Nestor Albiach Roger replacing Redeem Talng and Rochharzela. The change created a chance for NEUFC that give them the goal they were looking for. In the 51st minute of the game, Phalguni Singh found the net for Northeast United but it was the substitute Manvir who headed the ball from niches high from the ground to give him the assist. Nestor Roger provided the important cross to Manvir Singh lobbing the ball from the right of the box.
In the 55th minute, Northeast United scored again but was denied by the referee as Ibson Melo was found off-side. Philippoteaux's shot was not saved properly by Bhabindra and the rebound ball was tapped in by Ibson but was unfortunately offside. Ibson again had the opportunity in the 60th minute to make it 2-0, but Bhabindra was quick to come out from the box and slide in to deflect the ball.
With a double change in the 61st minute, the Indian Army Football team tried to rebuild their attacking line. Bikash Thapa and Alwin replaced Liton Shil and Deepak Singh. In the 63rd minute, the Indian Army had their best chance of the second half with Samir Murmu trying to flick the ball inside the box. If that was goal-bound, Misrahd would have been just a spectator to that equaliser.
But, Northeast United kept on pressing high to look for another goal. Ibson Melo was the main architect of the Northeast attack. Ibson in the 65th minute found Manvir on the left whose cross was blocked by Suresh Meitei. In the next ten minutes, both teams tried to find their way to the final third of the pitch but without any result.
In the 76th minute, substitute Jithin tried to create an attack from the left for Northeast United but could not get the cross in for Ibson. However, the Indian Army kept on fighting to find the equaliser with Bikash Thapa trying his best. His shot from outside the box in the 85th minute went straight into the hands of Mirshad. In the last few minutes, IAFT's looked desperate as Shafeel's cross from the left found Thapa inside the box whose deflection went wide narrowly. Northeast United's defence looked really nervous in the added minutes but managed to keep the lead as Mirshad saved an on-target free-kick from Ronaldo Singh.