Goals from Edu Bedia and Iker Guarrotxena helped FC Goa wrap up the first half of the Indian Super League (ISL) 2022-23 season with a 2-1 win over NorthEast United, their fourth victory at home this season from five matches.
This was the Gaurs’ sixth win overall from 10 games, and the three points from Saturday means they now have 18 points in all, which takes them back to fifth place on the standings.
Earlier in the day, FC Goa head coach Carlos Pena made just one change to the playing XI that started last week against Odisha FC, following Edu Bedia’s return. Soon afterwards, in the 10th minute, he found the target to give the Men in Orange an early lead.
Noah Sadaoui’s fourth assist of the season paved the way for the goal, as he fired in a cross from the left with pin-pointed accuracy, finding an unmarked Bedia in the six-yard box with ease. At the 20-minute mark, the hosts doubled their lead through Iker Guarrotxena.
Bedia was in the thick of things once again as he attempted a free-kick from the edge of the NEU FC box. The ball deflected off the wall and into the path of Guarrotxena, who shook the net with a fine volley.
The two-goal advantage helped the Gaurs assert more control over the proceedings for the rest of the match. They came close to scoring twice more in the first half, but Sadaoui was unfortunate to see his shot go just wide off target in the 24th minute, before NorthEast goalkeeper Mirshad saved a second attempt 10 minutes later.
Following the change of ends, the Highlanders showed more quality over the ball and nearly matched FC Goa in terms of attacking intensity. The hosts’ defence led by Fares Arnaout and later Marc Valiente had other plans, however, as they held their fort with good resolve.
At the other end, the Men in Orange continued to create chances at will. In the 60th minute, another of Noah Sadaoui’s attempts was saved miraculously by Mirshad.
The best of all their goal-scoring opportunities came 15 minutes later, when substitute Alvaro Vazquez laid the ball off for Sadaoui with just the goalkeeper to beat. The Moroccan rounded Mirshad off and pulled the trigger but struck the post.
NorthEast United scored their consolation goal with what was virtually the last kick of the match. Wilmar Gil beat Dheeraj Singh from the penalty spot to cut short FC Goa’s deficit, but could still not stop the hosts from taking home the three points.