A thriller, a turnaround and a first ever win in New Delhi for the Islanders as they came from behind to bag 3 important points against Delhi Dynamos FC. All the goals were scored in the second half that saw the Islanders get back in the top 4 with a sublime performance. A Rafael Bastos penalty, an own goal from Marti Crespi and maiden ISL goals from Raynier Fernandes and Paulo Machado sealed the deal on a splendid night.
The game started on a perfect note for Delhi as a strike by Lallianzuala Chhangte was deflected by Souvik Chakrabarti into his own net and that saw the end of 4 consecutive clean sheets and a first goal that the Islanders conceded in over 600 minutes of play.
The Delhi wingers were causing plenty of trouble by switching the flanks. In the 17th minute, a lethal delivery in the box by Chhangte found Nandhakumar Sekar but the latter could only find the stands with a shot way off target.
Captain for the night, Paulo Machado showed exquisite ball control and managed to find Rafael Bastos. The Brazilian took a long shot which could have been a worldie but Albino Gomes managed to make a good save.
With a little less than 10 minutes left in the first half, Arnold Issoko’s run was found by a lovely long ball by Sehnaj Singh. The winger went past two defenders before seeing his shot hit the side netting.
Jorge Costa decided to make an early change, replacing Milan Singh with Raynier Fernandes in the first half itself. After 45 minutes of action, Delhi Dynamos FC had a one-goal lead with the Islanders failing to create an impact.
The boys came with a spirited promise to turn things around. The first half-chance fell to Modou Sougou from a Rafael Bastos through ball but the striker’s attempt didn’t ask much from Albino Gomes who made a diving save to his left. In the next attack, a handball from Pritam Kotal saw the Islanders win a penalty and a chance to get back on level terms.
Up stepped Rafael Bastos and he converted from the spot for his second goal of the season. Before the Islanders could relax and take charge of the game, the home side got a glorious opportunity to take the lead as Chhangte was played through on goal but his effort was straight at Amrinder.
The game heated up as Sehnaj Singh and Joyner Lourenco were booked for some late challenges. With half an hour to go into the game, a Paulo Machado cross caused trouble in the box as Delhi’s Marti Crespi scored an own goal with Albino Gomes helpless in goal. From being a goal down to going 2-1 up, the Islanders turned it around.
But, there was more drama left in the game. Delhi won a free-kick and Rene Mihelic’s inch-perfect cross found the head of Gianni Zuiverloon who placed it to perfection and brought the home team back from where it all started.
Local boy, Raynier who came on as a first half sub scored his first Hero ISL goal after Rafael Bastos played Paulo Machado down the left flank, the Portuguese played a lovely cross to find Raynier who slotted the ball home with a brilliant first time shot. The goal gave the Islanders an important 3-2 lead after 20 minutes to go.
Delhi pushed men in numbers and the Islanders caught them by in a counter-attack. Paulo Machado started the attack by playing Arnold through on the right flank, The winger took time on the ball and waited patiently before putting in the cross to find the run from Machado who made no mistake and finished it off smartly. What followed was a brilliant celebration from the captain - the Moustaki walk - that stole the show on the night.
The home side didn’t give up and looked to pick up something from the game. It took a fantastic goal line clearance from Subhasish in the 85th minute to deny a nail-biting finish to the game. Amrinder Singh made two saves in the stoppage time to make sure that the Islanders won the game with a two goal advantage. At the end of 90 minutes, the Islanders were the better side and picked up their first win after conceding the first goal this season.
With this win in New Delhi, the Islanders extended their unbeaten run to 5 matches and moved to the 4th spot with 17 points after 9 games. The next task for the Islanders is at the Arena as 8th place Chennaiyin FC travel to Mumbai in search of their second win.