NEUFC holds FC Goa 2-2 in a see-saw battle

The draw saw NorthEast United maintain its three-match unbeaten streak against FC Goa.

Last season's top-scorer Ferran Corominas scored a brace in FC Goa's opener against NEUFC.   -  Ritu Raj Konwar

NorthEast United FC maintained its favourable record against FC Goa as it held the latter to a 2-2 draw in its opening Indian Super League encounter, here at the Indira Gandhi Stadium on Monday.

As it happened: NEUFC vs FC Goa

Cheered by a strong home crowd, a new-look side of the host went into the lead off a freak goal through Uruguayan striker Federico Gallego before the visitor established the lead through quick strikers from its Spanish forward Ferran Corominas. Captain Bartholomew Ogbeche realised the equaliser to help NEUFC steal a point from its strong opponent.

NorthEast United failed to show the imagination and the intent to preserve the lead that came its way in the eighth minute in a rather unlikely manner. Eighteen-year-old debutant-goalkeeper Mohammad Nawaz made the cardinal error of assuming an offside before it was actually signalled.

The custodian ran out of his box and handled a harmless pass from the midfield area assuming an off-side. Terming it an infringement referee R. Venkatesh signalled a free-kick. Gallego, seeing an unsettled Goan defence, showed an alert mind by chipping the ball over the goalkeeper, who was then stranded halfway in the Goan box.

Knowing well that it possesses a better range of arsenal, the visitor was quick to regroup after the setback. The score was levelled in the 15th minute as the visitor’s Spanish striker Corominas conjured a midfield move by playing a one-two with Jackichand Singh, who went up the flank to release a cross into the box. Frenchman Hugo Boumous missed the ball as Corominas moved in to chest the ball home.

Inspired by the equaliser Goa kept pressing on and exposed the dishevelled back-line of the host. This resulted in Corominas putting on a solo run almost unchallenged to fire it into lead in the 39th minute. The Gaurs were right on top making a fine fight-back to lead 2-1 at half time.

The change of ends saw a more proactive host as the visitor appeared content at preserving the lead. With Rowlin Borges getting in the thick of the action in the creative zone, NEUFC attack looked more incisive. The midfielder initiated the equaliser in the 53rd minute for the host releasing Keegan Pereira on the left. The winger sent a deep cross for captain Ogbeche to fire the ball home with a nice header. It was a great way to celebrate the birthday as the Nigerian striker announced his arrival to huge cheers from the stands. NEUFC, which had scored a win and a draw against the Goans in the last season, thereby continued to remain unbeaten.