Goa and NEUFC share spoils to stay on course for play-offs

FC Goa and NorthEast United FC played out an entertaining 1-1 draw at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium at Fatorda in front of 19,438 spectators to stay on course for the knock-out stages on Wednesday evening.

Victor Mendy of NorthEast United FC opens the scoring against FC Goa in their 1-1 draw at Fatorda.   -  ISL SPORTZPICS

FC Goa and NorthEast United FC played out an entertaining 1-1 draw at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium at Fatorda in front of 19,438 spectators to stay on course for the knock-out stages on Wednesday evening.

The visitors took the lead in the second period with a Victor Mendy header before Reinaldo equalised for Goa in the 80th minute.

The first chance of the game came the Highlanders’ way from a corner in the 5th minute. Defender Carlos Javier Lopez headed a loose ball towards the Goa goal from the corner and his effort was kept out by Leo Moura on the goal-line.

FC Goa came close six minutes later when Reinaldo headed back a cross towards the danger area. Striking partner Dudu was waiting for the ball and almost got there but goal-keeper TP Rehenesh did enough to put off the Nigerian frontman.

The pendulum swung NorthEast United FC’s way next when Francis Dadzie went through on goal. Dadzie’s shot though was collected easily by Laxmikant Kattimani in goal. This was the Ghanaian’s last piece of action as he had to be withdrawn shortly due to injury and was replaced by Mendy.

Sanju Pradhan then fired a shot from distance at the goal which FC Goa’s defence somehow managed to scramble away from the box after TP Rehenesh had parried away Pradhan’s initial effort. Pradhan shot four minutes later again but failed to break the deadlock.

As the second half began, Jonatan Lucca was next to call Rehenesh into action when the Highlanders’ keeper had to tip behind Lucca’s long range shot for a corner. The goal came soon after from another corner, however it was a NorthEast corner this time around.

Marquee player Simao stepped up and delivered a quality corner into the six-yard area which substitute Mendy attacked most aggressively and headed past a powerless Kattimani to put the visitors up 1-0.

FC Goa cranked up the tempo immediately in search of a leveller and looked dangerous attacking from the flanks. Mandar Rao Dessai and CS Sabeeth put in threatening crosses from these wide positions but unfortunately for the hosts, the crosses just evaded the Goan attackers in the box.

There was pandemonium in the stadium 10 minutes from full-time as the crowd erupted after Reinaldo got the Gaurs their equaliser. Moura did brilliantly to set up Reinaldo who smashed his shot past Rehenesh to make it 1-1.

Moura could have claimed all three points on the stroke of full-time. However, the Brazilian scuffed his shot wide of the NorthEast goal. Substitute Hali Charan Narzary also nearly stole all three points for the visitors on a counter-attack but Kattimani foiled his effort on goal as the game ended level-pegging. The draw took FC Goa to second spot with 19 points and NorthEast United FC to fourth with 17 points.

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