I-League: Last-gasp goal helps Neroca hold East Bengal 1-1

Neroca FC scored a last-gasp goal through Nedo Turkovic of Bosnia-Herzegovina to hold heavyweight East Bengal 1-1 and jump to the third spot in the I-League table on Saturday.

Turkovic's last-minute equaliser dashed East Bengal's hopes of a win.   -  I-League

Neroca FC scored a last-gasp goal through Nedo Turkovic of Bosnia-Herzegovina to hold heavyweight East Bengal 1-1 and jump to the third spot in the I-League table here on Saturday.

Katsumi Yusa gave the visitor the lead in the 12th minute and the Kolkata side was on the verge of sealing a victory before Turkovic struck the equaliser in the 89th minute much to the wild cheers of the home supporters at the Khuman Lampak Stadium here.

Despite the draw, East Bengal is on top of the league table with 14 points from seven matches while I-League newbie Neroca is third with 11 points from six games.

East Bengal draws first blood

Both teams started on a cautious note and put in more effort to hold their own half.

East Bengal took the lead from the spadework of Willis Plaza, who went through the right side of the box, and sent a defence-splitting pass to Japanese midfielder Katsumi who volleyed it home to silence the 28,000 strong home crowd.

The first half belonged to East Bengal, which outplayed the home side by adopting an aggressive approach. Though Neroca FC had a few good chances, it was found wanting when it came to converting inside the box.

Turkovic grabs the equaliser

To provide more thrust in the attacking third, Neroca coach Gift Raikhan brought in Turkovic in place of Israilov Akhlidin in the first half.

After the change-over, Neroca pressed harder for the equaliser and the Orange outfit kept the Red and Golds defenders on their toes throughout.

Neroca had a chance in the 60th minute when a corner kick from Saran Singh was well-timed by Fabien Vorbe at the goal- mouth but eventually, he failed to net the ball.

Finally, the moment of madness came for the Imphal-based side when Turkovic found a ball near the left area of the 18-yard box and volleyed it past Luis Barreto, sending the crowd into a delirium.

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