Guwahati : FC Goa lost the opening game of their campaign to NorthEast United FC at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati. A brace by Uruguayan striker Emiliano Alfaro kept the Highlanders at the top of the Hero Indian Super League table and helped the side win their first ever match against the Gaurs.
FC Goa started the game brightly after Raju Gaekwad and Rafael Coelho combined well down the right and the striker put a cross across the box for Richarlyson who was beaten to the ball by an opposition defender. The Gaurs nearly took the lead early on when a Trindade Goncalves corner at the near post was headed goal wards by Rafael Dumas. However, Subrata Paul made a fantastic save to deny the Brazilian.
As the half progressed, the Highlanders began to get more involved in the game as the away side seemed to drop off. Katsumi Yusa got a chance to put NorthEast United in the lead in the 10th minute but he was closed down well by Laxmikant Kattimani who saved the resulting shot. Not long later though, FC Goa found themselves down by a goal after a defensive error from the goalkeeper. Lucio who collected the ball from a NorthEast long ball passed it back to Kattimani whose attempted clearance deflected off Emiliano Alfaro into an empty net.
NEUFC’s Mailson Alves picked up an injury midway through the half and was replaced by marquee player Dider Zokora. FC Goa were presented with a good chance to level the match in the 37th minute when Mandar Rao Dessai ran down the left and put in a superb low cross for Joffre whose first time shot was expertly saved by the Indian international goalkeeper. As the half petered to a close, Goa had another chance to equalise after a quick free kick by Joffre found Lucio unmarked in the box. The defender’s attempt to put a ball across the box however, was deflected meekly to the goalkeeper as the referee blew for half-time.
Zico brought on Romeo Fernandes for Sanjay Balmuchu at the start of the second half which began in much the same fashion as the first half ended. Goa looked to get on the front foot to look for an equaliser. Trindade was the first to have a say in the half as he unleashed a long shot which Subrata saved, diving to his right. In the 58th minute, Subrata came to the rescue of the Highlanders twice in two minutes. Mandar Rao Dessai found himself in the box after a cheeky leave.