Guwahati: Spanish striker Koke's opportunistic first-half strike ensured a 1-0 win for the NorthEast FC against Sachin Tendulkar co-owned Kerala Blasters FC in the second match of the Hero Indian Super League, here on monday.
The former Marseille frontman struck at the stroke of the break in the 45th minute with a snap angular right-footer that beat former England custodian David James, manning the Blasters bar.
It was an Aibor Khongjee throw inside the box towards David Ngaihte, who rolled it towards the tip of the box for the Koke. The 31-year-old 'Man from Malaga' took a first time shot to find the net.
NorthEast could have gone ahead in the 33rd minute when a 30-yard pile-driver from Durga Boro was brilliantly saved by an airborne James. Boro unleashed a lethal punch with his outstep and James dived full stretch to keep the home team at bay despite the vociferous support from the partisan capacity crowd at the Indira Gandhi Stadium.
With support of Tendulkar from the stands, Blasters could have got the lead but an Iain Hume goal was ruled off-side by the referee.
It was Jamie McAllister who dropped in a beautiful assist on the left flank for Stephen Pearson, whose assist saw Hume tap in the ball but referee ruled it off-side.
It was the 'Yellow Brigade' coached by Trevor Morgan, who were on the ascendancy during the better part of the 30 minutes but former East Bengal playmaker Penn Orji and current Mohun Bagan striker CS Sabeeth could not provide the team with decisive result.