Both teams missed a lot of chances as the Highlanders registered their first win of the season. Rochharzela opened the scoring for Khalid Jamil's side as early as the 10th minute when he put the ball past Dheeraj Singh, after an outstanding Coureur assist. The lead was short-lived, as FC Goa found the equalizer three minutes later through Alexander Romario Jesuraj. Although there was a lot of goalmouth action later, the lack of a creative player resulted in no further scoring making it the eighth draw between the sides, the highest among the teams.
However, the breakthrough came for the Highlanders when Camara found the winner in the late minutes as he rendered Dheeraj helpless with just three minutes of added time left on the clock. Here are the five talking points from the entertaining clash between North East United and FC Goa:
Defensive woes for FC Goa
FC Goa is going through a horrible phase in terms of defensive performances. The outfit has conceded eight goals in merely three matches and this has taken the fans by shock. A team that showed brilliant defensive shape in the AFC Champions League is unable to keep ISL teams from finding the back of the net.
A player like Dheeraj Singh's calibre is not able to keep a clean sheet and the constant changes in the backline are not helping the cause. Dylan Fox started alongside Ivan Gonzalez today and yet the Gaurs conceded two goals. If not for Dheeraj, NEUFC would have scored four or five goals on the night.
Provat Lakra's early substitution
Khalid Jamil took a huge call in the initial stages of the match when he subbed Provat Lakra in the 17th minute. He brought on Joe Zoherliana for the defender and there was a very expressive reaction from Lakra on being subbed so early on. It is not clear if the decision came on the back of making tactical changes or due to Lakra getting an early yellow card.
Whatever the reason may be, a decision like that can affect a player's confidence. Provat Lakra was visibly frustrated due to the substitution and it remains to be seen if he recovers from this setback.
Life after Federico Gallego
Before the game, it was confirmed that Federico Gallego would be unavailable for the rest of the 2021-22 season. He suffered a knee injury in the early stages of the game against Chennaiyin FC and was in tears afterward. This comes as a huge blow to the playoffs ambitions of NEUFC who have an uphill task without their star midfielder.
However, today was the first game post the confirmation of Gallego's absence. Mathias Coureur showed positive signs upfront and combined well with Deshorn Brown after the latter made an appearance from the bench. Perhaps, the two strikers could start together and Coureur could play a deeper No.10 role as a replacement to Gallego. It may be an unconventional move but could reap rewards.
Unlucky Mathias Coureur
Mathias Coureur had many opportunities to hurt the opposition during the match. One of his many shooting attempts was a volley in the second half which hit the post. Later on, Coureur attempted an ambitious shot from the halfway line after seeing Dheeraj in an advanced position.
The shot hit the bar and then Dheeraj's fingertips, otherwise, the league would have witnessed a major contender for the goal of the season. This was the best performance from the striker and the fans will be excited to see more of that in the future.
FC Goa is in real trouble
The first-ever Indian club to represent and score in the AFC Champions League is currently sitting at the bottom of the standings. Three defeats in the first three games of the season is something nobody had anticipated. Furthermore, the outfit is struggling in both defence and attack which is a recipe for disaster.
Conceding eight goals in three games is a result of poor team selection and performance. If things do not improve, then FCG could miss out on qualifying for the playoffs eventually and struggle to move up in the table. Ferrando's men are the only ones without a point on the board.