Fatorda (Goa), Nov 25 (IANS) Striker Reinaldo found a late equaliser as FC Goa held NorthEast United FC (NEFC) to a 1-1 draw in an Indian Super League (ISL) clash at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Wednesday.
Reinaldo scored in the 80th minute to rescue a point for the hosts after a Victor Mendy (56th) header had given NEFC the lead early in the second half. The visitors have now climbed a spot to the fourth spot in the ISL table with 17 points from 12 matches.
Goa continue to hold on to the second spot with 19 points, trailing defending champions Atletico de Kolkata by just a single point. The first chance of the game came NEFC’s way from a corner in the fifth minute.
Defender Carlos Javier Lopez headed a loose ball towards the Goa goal from the corner and his effort was kept out by Leo Moura on the goal line. FC Goa came close six minutes later when Reinaldo headed back a cross towards the danger area.
Reinaldo’s strike partner Dudu Omagbemi was waiting for the ball and almost got there but NEFC goalkeeper T.P. Rehenesh did enough to put off the Nigerian striker. The pendulum swung NEFC’s way next when Francis Dadzie went through on goal. Dadzie’s shot though was collected easily by Laxmikant Kattimani in goal.
This was the Ghanaian’s last piece of action as he had to be withdrawn shortly due to injury and was replaced by Mendy. Sanju Pradhan then fired a shot from a distance which the Goa defence managed to scramble away from the box after Rehenesh had parried away the initial effort.
The visitors came closest to getting their noses in front in the first half when four minutes before the break Bruno Arias made a surging run but was unable to break the deadlock.
NEFC’s Cedric Hengbart had the first effort of the second period when he rattled the woodwork with a powerful header. The hosts responded through Moura who forced Rehenesh into a diving save to his left.
NEFC took the lead soon after from a corner. The visitors’ marquee player Simao Sabrosa stepped up and delivered a quality corner into the six-yard area which Mendy headed past Goa custodian Laxmikant Kattimani. Goa cranked up the tempo immediately in search of an equaliser and looked dangerous, attacking from the flanks.
Their wingers Mandar Rao Dessai and C.S. Sabeeth put in several threatening crosses, but unfortunately for the hosts, the Goan attackers in the box were unable to utilise them.
The home crowd was brought to its feet 10 minutes before the end after Reinaldo got the equaliser. Moura did brilliantly to set up the 36-year-old Brazilian who smashed his shot past Rehenesh to make it 1-1.
Moura could have claimed all three points on the stroke of full-time. However, the Brazilian scuffed his shot wide of the NorthEast goal. Substitute Hali Charan Narzary also nearly stole all three points for the visitors in a counter-attack but Kattimani foiled his effort on goal as the game ended level-pegging.