Guwahati: Portuguese star midfielder Simao Sabrosa kept his cool to score a last-minute penalty and Nicolas Velez added another goal in added time as NorthEast United FC got the better of 10-man Chennaiyin FC 2-0 in an ill-tempered Indian Super League (ISL) clash at the Indira Gandhi Stadium on Tuesday.
With the win, NorthEast have climbed a rung in the league table and are at the seventh place with three points from four games, whereas Chennaiyin FC are now fifth with six points from four matches.
NorthEast United FC coach Cesar Farias made as many as seven changes to his team, including a debut for Cameroon defender Andre Bikey, who has replaced injured captain Miguel Garcia and Holicharan Narzary, who recovered from injury and made his debut for the NorthEast franchise.
Chennaiyin FC manager Marco Materazzi surprisingly put to bench big names like Elano Blumer and Stiven Mendoza, who, between them, have scored seven goals.
United started positively and could have surged ahead in the first minute itself. Diomansy Kamara headed a ball for Francis Dadzie, who cut inside and shot from just outside the box but his effort missed the target by a whisker.
Chennaiyin did not take too much time to settle down with Fikru Teferra and Jayesh Rane having good chances to give their team the lead.
NorthEast United had a chance to go ahead in the 38th minute when they were awarded a penalty. A corner kick saw Alessandro Potenza pull down Cedric Hengbart and referee pointed to the spot. Senegalese striker Kamara stepped up to take the spot kick but rival custodian Edel Bete guessed correctly and saved the shot.
There was more drama after the penalty save as Khabra was issued the marching orders for aggressive behaviour.
In the second session, both teams made influential changes in an attempt to gain control. While the visitors introduced Elano and Mendoza, NorthEast United fielded Argentine attacker Velez and marquee player Sabrosa.
NorthEast went close in the 65th minute when Dadzie laid the ball for Boithang Haokip who sensed an opportunity from inside the box but his shot was wide of the mark.
At the other end, Mendoza beat his marker and then hoodwinked another one but his final attempt ballooned over the bar.
Just when the match seemed like heading for a draw,the hosts won a penalty in the 89th minute after Jayesh Rane clattered into Sabrosa inside the danger zone. Sabrosa made no mistake from the spot.
In added time, NorthEast made it 2-0 thanks to a lightning counter attack from which Velez scored without much trouble past the onrushing Bete.
The match, which saw one red and 10 yellow cards being shown by the referee, witnessed many heated moments, with the players almost exchanging blows at times. Chennaiyin played with 10 men from the 40th minute onwards after Harmanjot Khabra was given a straight red card by the referee for violent conduct.
Before the half time, NorthEast head coach Cesar Farias and his Chennaiyin counterpart Marco Materazzi exchanged heated words from their respective touchlines. This brought players and officials from both sides face-to-face and on the verge of exchanging blows and the match was interrupted for about five minutes.
The visiting team's captain Bernard Mendy chased Farias and he had to be stopped physically by other players and the referee.
After the referee blew the final whistle, Mendy again chased Farias and this time the players of both the sides were involved in a scuffle. The referee had to intervene and security officials prevented the situation from worsening further in front of the nearly 20,000 crowd at the Indira Gandhi Stadium.
In the 77th minute, NorthEast United's Sabrosa and Chennaiyin's Mehrajuddin Wadoo got involved in a face-off and both were shown the yellow cards.