Three penalty goals in a four-goal thriller saw NorthEast United FC send home FC Goa with a point and reasons to worry about their chances of qualifying for the knockout stage of Indian Super League 9 at the Indira Gandhi Athletic stadium in Guwahati.
FC Goa took the lead twice and allowed hosts NorthEast United FC -- who are at the bottom of the table -- to restore parity on both occasions through penalties and finished the table with twenty points- sixteen points adrift from table toppers Mumbai City FC and three points below Mohun Bagan who have played a game less.
FC Goa, who dropped points from a winning position for the first time this season, started with flair but gradually allowed their rivals to give shape to their attack.
The visitors started attacking early in the game and came close to scoring around the third minute - a flair gaining consistency with FC Goa - when Noah Sadaoui was fed through on the left and he crossed to Redeem Tlang whose effort was well parried away by NorthEast keeper Mirshad Michu.
The visitors were at it again and this time through Edu Bedia who pounced on a deflected ball and let go of a right-footed shot which, however, was well-read by NorthEast keeper Mirshad.
Brandon Fernandes looked dangerous when in possession and created a flutter near the NorthEast citadel in the 15th minute when he found his defender Anwar Ali with a nice cross but the last name failed to control the cross with the ball rolling over after Iker Guarrotxena committed a foul.
Undeterred FC Goa kept mounting pressure and a few minutes later it was Noah’s turn to feed Tlang again with a low cross he feigned it for Iker but the latter's shot was deflected for another corner.
The first thirty minutes were literally FC Goa’s and they translated their superiority in the form of a goal when in the 31st minute when Brandon trapped a low ball in the NorthEast box and tapped it towards Edu Bedia to volley in the first goal of the evening.
The goal got NorthEast out of their slumber and they nearly equalised a minute later when Emily Benny’s cross from the right hit the crossbar and travelled towards Hira Mondal who missed his header.
NorthEast were at it again and won a free kick in the 34th minute. Emily Benny – who was the constant NorthEast thorn in the FC Goa defence - saw his free-kick cleared by Noah.
Just as it appeared that FC Goa were going for the lemon with a one-goal cushion, NorthEast hit back through a penalty awarded to them when Emily’s corner landed at his colleague Alex Saji’s feet and his shot hit the hands of captain Brandon Fernandes.
Wilmar Gil converted the penalty to send both teams sharing the honours.
As in the first half, FC Goa were more dominant in the second and created their first clear chance of the second session in the 51st minute. Edu took a quick free kick to Iker who in turn played Tlang who could not control his crack at goal.
FC Goa took the lead again when Noah was fouled by NorthEast keeper Mirshad who was beaten in a one-to-one situation. Iker converted the penalty to give his side the lead again.
It didn’t take NorthEast to level terms when in the 68th minute they were awarded a penalty again but this time because Pragyan Gogoi was fouled by FC Goa’s Mohamed Arnaout inside the box. Wilmar made no mistake the second time too and both teams shared the spoils at the end of 90 minutes.
FC Goa is now with 20 points and plays Kerala Blasters at home on January 22.