NorthEast United FC registered their maiden win against FC Goa in front of almost 28,000 passionate supporters at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati on Tuesday evening. Goals in either half by Emiliano Alfaro was enough for Nelo Vingada’s men to make it two wins out of two.
The visitors started the game brightly and forced NorthEast United FC’s keeper Subrata Paul into a save in the seventh minute after Raju Gaikwad got ahead of his marker and headed an FC Goa corner by Trindade Goncalves goal-wards.
NorthEast responded with an attempt of their own four minutes later after a cross from the left found Katsumi Yusa unmarked at the far post. The Japanese midfielder composed himself before getting his shot away, however, Laxmikanth Kattimani was quick off his line to make the save.
The opening goal of the game came in the 20th minute after Kattimani made heavy weather of a back-pass from his skipper Lucio. FC Goa’s shot-stopper hesitated after receiving the ball and kicked it straight into Alfaro, who gleefully bundled the ball into goal to make it 1-0 for the Highlanders.
Goa almost equalised in the 38th minute thanks to some brilliant work by Mandar Rao Dessai on the left flank. The young winger bamboozled NorthEast’s defence and cut the ball back to Joffre, who struck a powerful shot straight at Paul in the Highlanders’ goal.
They had another chance a minute before half-time after a well worked free-kick was helped into the danger area by Lucio. Goncalves’ attempt on goal from his captain’s lay-off though was a tame effort that Paul collected easily to help his side go in at the break with a 1-0 lead.
It proved to be vital four minutes later when a delightful touch by Holicharan Narzary caught out Goa’s defence as Alfaro found himself through on goal with just Kattimani to beat. The Uruguayan striker made no mistake and put the ball though the keeper’s legs for his and NorthEast’s second of the night.
Substitute Reinaldo added more bite to Goa’s attack and had a left-footed effort saved comfortably by Paul in the 74th minute. Alfaro nearly had his hat-trick seven minutes later when NorthEast substitute Nicolas Velez was sent clear on goal.
The 26-year-old, however, unselfishly squared the ball to Alfaro, who was denied the first hat-trick of the season thanks to an exceptional block by Gaikwad on the goal-line. Goa could have pulled one back through another one of their substitutes, Julio Cesar. The Brazilian forward, however, failed to hit the target as NorthEast secured their second win and second clean sheet of the season.
Club Award – NorthEast United FC
Hero of the Match – Emiliano Alfaro
DHL Winning Pass of the Match – Holicharan Narzary
ISL Emerging Player of the Match – Robin Gurung
Maruti Suzuki Swift Moment of the Match – Subrata Paul
Amul Fittest Player – Joffre
– ISL Media