NorthEast United's unbeaten run continued as they managed to hold FC Goa to a 1-1 draw in an Indian Super League (ISL) clash on Monday at the Fatorda Stadium.
Idrissa Sylla handed the Highlanders the lead in the 40th minute from the penalty spot but Igor Angulo's strike in the 43rd minute secured FC Goa a point.
Juan Ferrando made three changes to the FC Goa lineup which lost 0-1 to Mumbai City. Aibanbha Dohling, Jorge Ortiz and Brandon Fernandes came in for James Donachie, Redeem Tlang and Len Doungel.
Gerard Nus made five changes to NorthEast United starting eleven as Provat Lakra, Lalrempuia Fanai, Idrissa Sylla, Luis Machado and Britto PM replaced Ashutosh Mehta, Federico Gallego, Kwesi Appiah, Ninthoinganba Meetei and Rakesh Pradhan.
The first half turned out to be an evenly poised contest with end-to-end action. While FC Goa enjoyed more possession, NorthEast United depended on quick counter-attacks down the flanks.
The Highlanders came close to breaking the deadlock in the 34th minute when Idrissa Sylla found himself a very convenient position to score from Britto PM's cross which got deflected off a Goa defender. However, the forward's header sailed over the crossbar.
Sylla made amends for his mistake within five minutes. He was brought down inside the box by Seriton Fernandes and allowed to convert the resulting spot-kick.
The hosts came back into the game quickly. In the 43rd minute, Igor Angulo's clever movement inside the box allowed him to guide Brandon Fernandes' low cross into the net. Brandon did well to beat Provat Lakra on the left flank with clever footwork before whipping in the cross.
Gerard Nus decided to consolidate his backline at the very beginning of the second half as Ashutosh Mehta was brought in at the right-back position in place of Provat Lakra who had a shaky first half. The Spaniard completely shut shop as NorthEast defended in numbers for most of the second half.
The Gaurs went all guns blazing against the Highlanders but failed to get past their defence. The only major chance Goa got in the second half was in the 84th minute when Alberto Noguera's shot hit the upright. Noguera received a pass from Jorge Ortiz from the right flank, took a touch and unleashed a shot with his left-foot but it did not go in.
NorthEast moved up to the second position on the league table with two draws and a win in their first three matches, while winless Goa remained in the bottom half.