FC Goa kept North East United FC on a winless swing, finishing its last match of 2022 with an emphatic 2-1 win at the Nehru stadium in Fatorda- though the result was not a true indicator of the game.
The Gaurs started assertively and scored two goals and played with caution thereafter giving the visitors little room to explore their half and break the defensive wall.
North East United FC, yet to win, started tentatively and it was their umpteen unforced errors in the first half that made it possible for FC Goa easily score two goals and evaporate any chances of a comeback.
FC Goa broke through the North East defence in the ninth minute when Noah received a pass on the flanks and sent in a floater which was well controlled by unmarked Edu Bedia and knocked into the nylons for the first goal of the evening.
Ten minutes later, FC Goa was awarded a free kick on top of the North East box and captain Brandon’s shot hit the wall and bounced towards Iker Valejo who blasted in for the second goal of the evening.
Stung by two goals in quick succession, North East appeared at sea with no sails to navigate past the defensive waves created by FC Goa who appeared to hold instead of losing possession.
North East got the first and only clear sight of the FC Goa goal in the 35th minute when Romain Phillippoteaux found himself in place to score but could not reach the ball before Dheeraj. They earned two corners towards the end of the first half but they could not disturb FC Goa keeper Dheeraj on both occasions.
The second session saw FC Goa continue possessive play – bursting forth when a striking opportunity appeared imminent and North East trying to probe their rivals with a game plan of taking the ball forward through the flanks.
FC Goa had a chance to consolidate their lead in the 59th minute when Noah Sadaoui found himself through but failed to beat North East United keeper Mirshad Appuna who backtracked to hold on to a ball looped over him.
FC Goa coach Carlos Pena brought in Brison Fernandes for Ayush Chhetri and the former, who has been scoring when fielded, did not find the nets but displayed an ability to control the pace of the game in the midfield.
FC Goa, who looked comfortable, continued with their style of possessive football and came to breaking the North East defence in the 74th minute when Noah once again found himself face to face with the North East goalkeeper, dodged past him, slipped and saw his shot at goal hit the pole and rumble towards the goalkeeper.
North East earned five corners in the second session but all proved toothless.
FC Goa coach Pena substituted defender Mhd Arnaout with Marc Hernandez keeping with his style of giving both a chance of play with Anwar Ali once again anchoring the defence confidently.
North East United got a breather during extra time when Wilmar Gil saw his cross hit Anwar Ali’s hand and the referee pointed to the dreaded spot only for the former to step up and see that Dheeraj did not start his Christmas celebration with another clean slate.
FC Goa has won four of their five home games- scoring eleven goals and conceding three and are now fifth on the table.