Guwahati: Northeast United FC brightened their semifinal prospects with a 2-0 win over strugglers Mumbai City FC in the Indian Super League (ISL) here, helping the Highlanders move to fourth position in the pecking order.
Bruno Aires put the hosts ahead when he converted a penalty in the 41st minute, and the lead was doubled after Diomansy Kamara found the net in the 85th minute at the Indira Gandhi Stadium, which saw a turnout of over 15000.
While Northeast United FC jumped to the top four, the visitors, coming here after the 0-7 thrashing at the hands of FC Goa, are struggling at sixth place and will need to win their remaining games to harbor hopes of advancing to the next round.
Both teams came into this game after suffering big losses in their previous clash and made plenty of changes. While NorthEast United coach Cesar Farias made seven changes, Nicolas Anelka introduced four new players.
The changes seemed early in the game for Mumbai City who showed composure and some good passing. In the first minute itself there was an opportunity for Saran Singh to open the account but Rehenesh proved equal to the task when Saran fired a volley.
NorthEast United were subdued for long spells but the hosts moved ahead in the 40th minute after they won a penalty.
The dangerous Kamara controlled a ball on the left and then worked his way inside the danger zone where he collided after contact with Mumbai City defender Rowilson Rodrigues. The referee promptly awarded a penalty which Bruno Arias converted despite Mumbai City goalkeeper Subrata Paul diving in the same direction.
Mumbai City did not crumble after conceding the first goal and showed determination for a fight. Nicolas Anelka and Sunil Chhetri tried their best to draw level but lacked the final touch.
Early in the second session, Anelka went close when he played a nice one-two with Chhetri and despite pressure from NorthEast defenders, controlled the ball well and shot at goal which was saved by Rehenesh.
Rehenesh was alert again in the 81st minute when Anelka seemed to have done enough to turn home Sony Norde's cross from the left but the goalkeeper managed to get a touch to the ball and push it away to safety.
NorthEast ensured full points in the 85th minute with a goal from dead ball. Simao Sabrosa took a free kick right into the goalmouth where the Mumbai goalkeeper clashed with his own player, Pavel Cmovs, allowing Kamara a simple tap-in.
India international Sunil Chhetri came agonisingly close to scoring for Mumbai City FC in the 74th minute but his left-footed effort missed the post by few inches.