GUWAHATI, Oct 1 - Hosts NorthEast United FC rode on Katsumi Yusa�s 55th minute goal to get off to a winning start in the inaugural match of the third edition of the Indian Super League (ISL) against Kerala Blasters FC at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Sarusajai here today.
The hosts maintained a better ball possession and had some real good opportunities to surge ahead but failed to find the desired result in the first half. Kerala too had their share of chances but lacked the tempo throughout.
Local boy Holicharan Narzary decided to go for a long range attempt but his strike was not much of a problem at all for the Kerala Blasters custodian Graham Stack as it went way above the target in the second minute.
NorthEast United�s Argentinean forward Nicolas Velez opted for a cross but failed to find Emiliano Alfaro inside the box in the ninth minute. Romaric made a complete mockery of the situation after a lazy short kick by Blasters glovesman Stack found him. His weak grounded shot from distance saw Stack not having much of a difficulty in grabbing hold of the ball in the 24th minute.
Ishfaq Ahmed�s 33rd minute free kick saw Sandesh Jhingan create a heap of confusion by outjumping Romaric on the far post but Anotonio German�s bicycle kick failed to trouble the NorthEast United custodian Subrata Paul.
German decided to have a go on the target from around 30 yards but his shot again went way wide of the target in the 36th minute. Another NorthEast United chance was wasted as Nico Velez�s angled header was kept out by Stack in the 43rd minute. Emiliano Alfaro tried to reach it but he took too long again.
Switching sides, Kerala Blasters maintained a better ball possession but failed to find the back of the net. NorthEast United finally got their desired result in the 55th minute through their Japanese midfielder Katsumi Yusa. Making his way through the left flank, Velez provided the perfect setting for Yusa to find the back of the net. With a great late run, Yusa did a magnificent job to get his name registered as the first goal scorer in the 3rd edition of the ISL.
The hosts came close to increase their lead but Stack pulled out a fine save off a shot from Alfaro in the 72nd minute. Rowlin Borges from the midfield set up Alfaro who was left unmarked inside the box, but the latter�s attempt was well denied by the Blasters custodian.