New Delhi: A subdued Delhi Dynamos missed an opportunity to claim the top spot after being held to a 1-1 in an Indian Super League (ISL) match by NorthEast United FC here on Tuesday.
The kick-off was delayed by 35 minutes due to a power failure. But it didn't quite have any effect on the outcome of the match though the Dynamos performance resembled the malfunctioning power system of the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium.
Ghanaian forward Richard Gadze put the hosts ahead in the 37th minute. NorthEast's marquee man Portuguese Simao Sabrosa equalised in the 73rd minute.
The stalemate meant Dynamos became at par with front-runners FC Pune City with 13 points from seven matches but remained just behind them due to a inferior goal difference (+3 for Pune, 0 for Dynamos).
NorthEast didn't gain much either improving to seven points from as many matches but staying in the seventh position of the eight-team tournament.
The crowd turnout at the 60,000 capacity stadium was disappointing for the second successive home match of the Dynamos. Even in that sparse attendance, the home supporters were outshouted by the away contingent, who cheered their team's every move wholeheartedly.
NorthEast fans were justifiably vociferous as their team began the proceedings better, stitching moves together and spreading the attack on its flanks that were manned by two nippy home-grown players Sanju Pradhan and Seityasen Singh.
They dominated the early exchanges got a few sighters at goal but no clear-cut chances.
Dynamos' marquee player-coach Roberto Carlos named himself in the starting 11 for the first time in the tournament.
But the Brazilian-led midfield couldn't get his team into the contest, increasing the pressure of their deep defence who were forced to resort to old-style long ball clearances rather than playing it on the ground and building the attack from the back.
Dynamos though got a foothold in the action gradually. A Robin Singh header and a Franciso Fernandes shot from close range, both of which flew just wide, gave them confidence. But they needed more inspiration at the back from conceding under sustained pressure.
Spaniard goalkeeper Toni Doblas provided that spark, effecting a triple save in the 35th minute.
Dynamos' outfield players suddenly found an extra gear and launched a swift counter attack that culminated into Dynamos taking lead on 37 minutes.
French marquee Florent Malouda, largely non-existent till then, utilised his experience and vision to thread a well-weighted through to Ghanaian forward Richard Gadze, whose angular left-footed grounder found the bottom left corner of keeper Rehenesh's goal.
NorthEast would have been felt aggrieved to have gone behind while walking back to the dressing room at half-time, clearly being the better the team in the first session.
They began with more vigour and got the better of the Norweigian star John Arne Riise-led Dynamos defence. But were stopped from equalising by the frame of the goal twice, at the stroke of the hour mark, with Jorge Frenandes' dipping free-lick kissing the top of the cross piece on its way out and Ghanaian forward Francis Dadzie's firm left-footed placement rebounding of the post.
The sustained pressure took its toll on Dynamos. The 42-year-old Carlos, largely a spectator and preferring to sit back and protect the lead, substituted himself with Serginho Greene in the 69th minute.
Four minutes later it became 1-1.
Portuguese marquee Simao Sabrosa replaced his compatriot Silas in the 72nd minute and scored with his first kick a minute later, after French forward Diomansy Kamara was brought down just at the edge of the area, curling the ball from a free-kick above a defensive wall past a helplessly-rooted Rehenesh.
The chants of the NorthEast fans grew louder as their team tried to capitalise on the momentum but their attacks lacked bite that prevented them from claiming three points despite being the better team.