FC Goa dropped points after opening the scoring in its Hero Indian Super League (ISL) game for the first time this season as they were held to a 2-2 draw by NorthEast United FC at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati on Sunday.
The Gaurs had the opportunity to reclaim a fifth place on the table with a win, given the results earlier in the week, but will continue to remain sixth after what turned out to be NorthEast United FC’s first draw of the season – and only the second time they picked up points from a game.
FC Goa have now failed to win on the road for the sixth straight game, and Chennaiyin FC pushes them into seventh place, only four points behind them.
Vincenzo Annese made two changes to his starting XI. Jithin MS and new signing Kule Mbombo were included in the lineup as Romain Philippoteaux and Rochharzela dropped to the bench. Carlos Pena fielded an unchanged XI for FC Goa.
The opening goal of the game came moments after Aaron Evans’ error almost led to a goal around the half-hour mark. Guarrotxena darted into the box with the ball from the right side before squaring it towards Brandon. It was played behind him as the winger nicked it into the path of Edu Bedia, who fired a volley into the back of the net to mark his 100th appearance for FC Goa.
Three minutes after the opener, Emil Benny’s cross from the right flank came off the crossbar before the rebound was headed wide by Hira Mondal from close range. The Highlanders did eventually breach FC Goa’s defence via a penalty that was awarded in first-half stoppage time. Alex Saji’s volley came off Brandon’s arm and the referee instantly pointed to the spot. Gil stepped up and converted from the spot to restore parity just before the half-time whistle.
In the 63rd minute, Brandon’s clever flick near the halfway line allowed Noah Sadaoui to sprint with the ball towards the goal. Outpacing his marker, Sadaoui tried to round keeper Mirshad Michu but was taken down by him to win a penalty. Guarrotxena sent Michu the wrong way and put the Gaurs back in front.
The joy was short-lived for FC Goa as a little over five minutes later, Fares Arnout’s clumsy tackle on Pragyan inside the box forced the referee to point towards the spot for the third time during the match. Gil stepped up to take it again and successfully converted his fourth spot-kick of the season to draw the Highlanders’ level for the second time on the evening as they held on for a point till the full-time whistle.
NorthEast United FC remains at the bottom of the table but adds a point to their tally, now at four points. The Highlanders will visit Mumbai City FC next January 19, Thursday.
FC Goa remains sixth on the table, having missed out on the opportunity presented by Odisha FC’s loss on Saturday. They host Kerala Blasters next January 22, Sunday. (ANI)