A solitary strike by NorthEast United FC striker Tomi Juric and an own goal by FC Goa defender Odei Onaindia made the difference between the two sides, as the hosts succumbed to a 2-0 defeat in the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 season at Nehru Stadium in Fatorda on Wednesday.

This was the Gaurs’ second straight defeat of their league campaign, but the solid start that they enjoyed in the first half of the season has helped them hold on to the third place on the standings with 28 points from 14 matches.

Earlier in the day, FC Goa head coach Manolo Marquez made two changes to the playing XI that started against Mohun Bagan Super Giant last week, as Nim Dorjee Tamang made his debut in orange while Borja Herrera replaced Noah Sadaoui in attack.

The match kicked off with Goa showcasing their attacking prowess early on, as Carl McHugh narrowly missed the mark with a header in the 4th minute. The home side continued to press forward, with Carlos Martinez and Brandon Fernandes orchestrating several promising attacks, only to be denied by resilient defending from the Highlanders.

Juan Pedro Benali’s men also proved dangerous on the counter, testing the Gaurs’ defence with swift movements. In the 10th minute, Nim came to Goa’s rescue, clearing the ball from in front of an empty goal to deny the opponents a clear scoring opportunity.

As the first half progressed, FC Goa continued to push for the opener, with Boris Singh and McHugh coming close to breaking the deadlock. Despite their efforts, the teams headed into halftime deadlocked at 0-0.

The second half saw Goa come out with renewed determination, pressing forward in search of a breakthrough. Martinez and Fernandes spearheaded the attack, but NorthEast’s defence held firm, frustrating the home side’s efforts.

Finally in the 69th minute, the Highlanders broke the deadlock, with Tomi Juric converting from the penalty spot after being brought down in the box. The goal gave them a strong boost heading into the final minutes of the clash. In the 79th minute, they doubled their lead, this time through Onaindia who put the ball into his own net while attempting to clear away a corner-kick.

Despite going two goals down, the Men in Orange continued to fight back. They threw the kitchen sink and more in search of at least a point and came close to scoring on a handful of occasions but was denied each time by Mirshad Koottappunna who enjoyed a good shift between the sticks for NorthEast United.

Following Wednesday’s defeat, FC Goa will hope to turn things around for themselves next Sunday, when they travel to Kochi to take on Kerala Blasters FC. Manolo Marquez and his boys have eight more league matches remaining in total this season.


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