NorthEast United scored in the final minute of the added time to hold defending champions Chennaiyin FC to a 3-3 draw in a thrilling match and kept themselves alive for a play-offs berth in the Indian Super League football in Chennai on Saturday.
Five minutes were added as injury time and Shouvik Ghosh headed the ball in off a corner kick in a dramatic fashion with just seconds left in the match to restore parity and give one point for NorthEast at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.
NorthEast came from behind thrice in the match and the draw meant that they remained in the hunt for a last-four berth as they are now at fifth spot in the league table with 15 points from 12 matches. They have two matches in hand.
For Chennaiyin, MacPherlin Dudu scored a hat-trick but his superb efforts were just not enough to take full three points. A win today would have very much kept Chennaiyin in the hunt for a play-offs berth.
With 15 points from 13 matches, Chennaiyin are now at the seventh spot and have very little chance of making the last-four stage though there is still mathematical probability to do so.
Dudu opened the scoring in the 34th minute before Nicolas Velez equalised four minutes later for NorthEast. Another goal by the Nigerian Dudu made it 2-1 at the break but Velez levelled again six minutes after the restart.
Dudu completed his hat-trick nine minutes from full-time but Shouvik Ghosh broke the hearts of Chennaiyin supporters with the late header off of Velez corner kick to share the spoils.
Tempers flared towards the end of the game with NorthEast pushing hard for a last-gasped equaliser. Velez saw an attempt of his own cleared off the goal-line by Eli Sabia in stoppage time before turning provider from the corner.
Chennaiyin were the better side early on and went close to breaking the deadlock in the sixth minute but Davide Succi shot wide. John Arne Riise also went close for the hosts seven minutes later when a thunderous deflected free-kick was tipped over the crossbar by goalkeeper Subrata Paul.
NorthEast registered their first shot on target in the 22nd minute when Romaric tried his luck from a free-kick that forced Karanjit Singh into a save. Another free-kick by the Ivory Coast midfielder three minutes later found the head of Mailson Alves but Karanjit was perfectly positioned in goal to make the save.
Emiliano Alfaro was then played in on goal shortly after with an incisive pass from Velez. The Uruguayan striker managed to get his shot on target but Karanjit got down low to his left quickly to deny the visitors again.