Guwahati, Aug 20: NorthEast United FC (NEUFC) powered their way into the quarterfinals of the 132nd Durand Cup with a confident 3-1 win over debutants Downtown Heroes FC of Kashmir.
The Highlanders came from behind to stamp their authority over the inexperienced debutants through three scintillating strikes in the second half after suffering an early setback. For the Highlanders, goals from Ibson Melo in the 48th minute, Captain Romain Philippoteaux in the 52nd minute and substitute Parthib Gogoi in the 78th minute, ensured an authoritative win after an early setback in the eighth minute from Parvaj Bhuiya of Downtown Heroes FC.
NEUFC who are part of Group D are now second in the group with seven points, trailing FC Goa on goal difference. Both FC Goa and NorthEast United FC have sealed their quarter-final berths from Group D.
The Highlanders Coach Juan Pedro, started with six changes with a quarter-final berth in sight, while debutants Downtown Heroes FC made three, including Goalkeeper Umaid.
The home side kicked off the first half with a lot of steam, but failed to capitalise on the momentum. After a failed attempt in the sixth minute through Hira Mondal the Highlanders could not breach the final third of their opponents. However, debutants Downtown Heroes lapped up the only chance and shocked the hosts drawing first blood through Parvaj Bhuiya after a howler from keeper Mirshad. It was the 8th minute of the game.
Thereafter the Downtown Heroes FC pressed hard in through Ezekiel and Parvaj, but a careful Mirshad ensured that the debutants did not get a chance to double their lead. The first half came to an end with Downtown Heroes leading 1-0.