NorthEast United FC (NEUFC) were held to an entertaining 2-2 draw by FC Goa in Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium at Guwahati on Monday.
It may be mentioned that NorthEast United FC are the only Indian Super League (ISL) franchise not to make the playoffs even once and will look to turn their fortunes around this season.
FC Goa’s defence was their downfall in the previous season but this time around they have strengthened their backline and look ready to win their first ISL title.
While Ferran Corominas (14th, 38th) bagged both the goals for the visitors (FC Goa), Federico Gallego (8th) and Bartholomew Ogbeche (53rd) were the scorers for the hosts (NEUFC).
As per a report published on Monday by Hindustan Times, after a stop-start first few minutes, the hosts were gifted a goal after a terrible error from 18-year-old Mohammad Nawaz, who was handed an ISL debut.
The custodians of visitors FC Goa charged out of his box and handled the ball in the belief that Bartholomew Ogbeche was offside. However, no such whistle was blown by the referee who instead awarded the free-kick to hosts NEUFC for a handball.
With Nawaz yards outside the box, Federico Gallego showed some quick thinking to chip the dead ball into the empty net, much to the horror of Nawaz.
The report further stated that having profited from Nawaz’s error to take the lead, the hosts relinquished it minutes later after an error by their own goalkeeper, TP Rehenesh. But the NRUFC custodian failed to collect a floated cross from Jackichand Singh and Spanish sharpshooter Ferran Corominas was on hand to bundle the ball into the net.
The visitors gained a foothold in the match after the equalizer and came close to taking the lead twice through Jackichand but the winger’s first attempt was deflected away for a corner, while the second just bounced over the bar.
In the 39th minute Goa had their deserved lead with Corominas bagging his second of the night. A midfield scramble saw Hugo Bomous release the Spaniard in the box and the prolific striker did well to evade two tackles with body feints before beating Rehenesh at his near post with a perfectly placed shot, the HT report said.
The Highlanders in the In the second half did not have to wait too long to get their second goal with Ogbeche getting off the mark with a header, it said.
The NorthEast forward’s header after a perfect cross from Keegan Pereira gave Nawaz no chance as the home fans roared in delight.
The NEUFC boys had two gilt-edged chances to take the lead around the 65th minute when Nikhil Kadam beat his man to come one-on-one with the Goa custodian. The winger attempted to curl the ball into the right-hand corner of the goal but Nawaz pulled off an excellent dive to deny him. From the resulting corner, Grgic had the goal at his mercy but the central defender directed his header wide.
After some minutes, Boumous made a darting run into the hosts’ box after being released by Carlos Pena. The Goa midfielder had done well to beat his markers and was poised to take a shot with only Rehenesh to beat but a last-ditch tackle by Leudo averted the danger.