NorthEast United fell prey to Kerala Blasters at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium as defender Wes Brown found the net in the 28th minute. Blasters will continue to be in the fifth position while NorthEast haven't moved from the ninth spot.
Avram Grant made four changes from their loss to Delhi Dynamos which saw his side feature just three foreigners namely, Maic Sema, Danilo Lopes and Martin Diaz. Victor Pulga was making his first start for the visitors while Sandesh Jhingan returned from suspension. Interestingly, Dimitar Berbatov was relegated to the bench.
The Highlanders got an early chance when Danilo tested Paul Rachubka in the 10th minute. Reagan Singh fed Sema with a long ball on the right which saw the Sweden-born player square the delivery for Danilo; the forward's attempted shot was meek and hit straight at the custodian.
In the 18th minute, the visitors had a golden chance to put themselves in the lead when Nirmal Chettri’s clearance troubled his own shot-stopper Rehenesh TP. Chettri's mis-clearance as first saved by a flying Rehenesh and later ricocheted off the crossbar to land onto the feet of CK Vineeth. However, the former Bengaluru FC striker couldn’t do enough to slot it home.
Just two minutes before the half hour mark, Blasters took the lead as they scored from set play. Jackichand's delivery was headed into the net by former Manchester United defender Wes Brown in what was his debut goal of the Indian Super League. It was Danilo who should have kept an eye on Brown inside the box.
In the dying minutes of the first half, the Guwahati-based side had the opportunity to level the scores. Danilo took a shot from inside the box but Rachubka pushed it away before it was cleared away by the Blasters defence.
Early into the second half, John Mosquera, who replaced Danilo Lopes at the break, missed a glorious opportunity. After Brown muddled up the clearance of a Sema cross, Mosquera was gifted the ball inside the box but his header went straight into the hands of the goalkeeper.
Around the hour mark, Mosquera was brought down inside the box by Jhingan. However, the referee wasn't convinced and hence, chose not to award a spot-kick.
NorthEast United were unfortunate to not grab the equalizer despite unending efforts on goal and they came the closest in the 72nd minute. From the edge of the Kerala box, Lalrindika Ralte unleashed a bullet strike but was unlucky to see it bounce off the crossbar.
At the final whistle, the visiting side walked off with full points which keeps them in the race for a berth in the top four. As for the John Abraham co-owned side, they failed to put in a commendable performance in what was their final home game of the season.