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Khalid Jamil’s impact? Ashutosh Mehta and Federico Gallego starred in NorthEast United’s compelling presentation

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The 11 players who took the field for NorthEast United against Jamshedpur had one goal – a win.

They had gone seven games without a win and that race cost Gerard Nus his job as head coach. The players needed to step up and find some motivation somewhere.

Enter Khalid Jamil. The seasoned Indian coach, known for making history with I-League winner Aizawl years ago, appeared to have given the players an extra dose of motivation. The Highlanders delivered a solid performance on the pitch and beat Jamshedpur 2-1 to end their winless run.

The Highlanders had the intention and desire to be aggressive on the court from the start. Federico Gallego was the boss at the center of the park and his influential display and technical quality kept the Highlanders always one step ahead of the Men of Steel. He was the deserved man of the game, having assisted both goals for his team.

Not only did Jamshedpur’s attack struggle to break through the northeast defense, but individual mistakes and defensive failures cost them twice.

Ashutosh Mehta showed future footballers how to attack a corner kick and steer the ball into the net. He rushed to the near post to meet Gallego’s inswinging corner kick and sent a powerful header into the net past TP Rehenesh to break the deadlock.

Isaac Vanmalsawma gave the ball cheap and allowed Gallego to free debutant Deshorn Brown in plenty of space behind Jamshedpur’s defense to make it 2-0 in the second half.

Brown, who said he felt “restricted” at his old club Bengaluru in a post-match interview he gave Star Sports, kicked off his stint at his new club in style. He came off the bench, grabbed a deep ball, stepped into the box and carefully passed an unfortunate Rehenesh to double his team’s advantage. Whatever Idrissa Sylla has struggled to do in the last few games, Brown has shown he can do it.

Jamshedpur lacked desire and couldn’t match the intensity of the Highlanders. They were up against an opponent who just needed to win more. Nerijus Valskis, who has scored eight out of the team’s 13 goals this season, was offside in front of goal. Peter Hartley scored his first ISL goal but it was nothing more than consolation at the end of a lackluster performance.

It was Jamshedpur’s third game in eight days and also their third straight loss. Their last victory came against Bengaluru FC on December 28, 2020 and after a break of around 12 days they seem to have lost their way instead.

As an interim coach, Jamil got off to a good start. They needed to win a game and now they have. NorthEast United must now pitch and chain a few wins together.