There were some rather positive individual performances from the Gaurs.
In a fiercely-contested game at the Fatorda Stadium, FC Goa and NorthEast United settled for a 1-1 draw. The result means last season’s Indian Super League (ISL) table-toppers are winless after the opening three games of the season. In-form Idrissa Sylla gave the Highlanders a lead before half-time after scoring from the spot. However, their celebrations were cut short, as Igor Angulo converted from a beautifully provided pass by Brandon Fernandes minutes later to level the scores.
In a game that also saw a spat between Gerard Nus and Juan Ferrando on the sidelines, there were some individual performances that became the point of discussion. Here, we look at the three hits and misses from both FC Goa and NorthEast United.
As calm and composed as always, Dylan Fox delivered another commendable performance, this time against the mighty Gaurs attack. Thriving under pressure and constantly diverting the opposition’s dangerous balls into the box, the Australian proved himself as NEUFC’s leader at the back.
With five clearances, three crucial blocks and a successful interception, Fox thwarted any threats from the rivals with ease. After three consecutive excellent performances, the 26-year-old will be the key to NorthEast’s success this season.
One of the best midfielders on the pitch, Alberto Noguera’s experience from LaLiga showed from his sheer composure on the evening. He was responsible for Goa’s smooth transition between defence and attack and was constantly involved in the game. In the second half, Noguera almost handed his side the win with a powerful low drive that unfortunately hit the wrong side of the woodwork.
A notorious nudge to the opposition coach in the dying minutes could perhaps have got him sent off or booked at the least, but the Spaniard got away with it. Nevertheless, it was an all-round fantastic performance from the 31-year-old and might have just cemented his place in the starting XI for the rest of the season.
Brandon Fernandes deserves all the hype FC Goa accord him. His very presence on the pitch makes the Gaurs’ attack livelier. He proved it last season under Sergio Lobera and he is replicating the same under Juan Ferrando as well. Having created three superb chances for his side, Fernandes was a menace for the NorthEast United defence. Some cheeky footwork saw him get past Provat Lakra on the left wing and slot in an immaculate cross for Igor Angulo, who was just waiting for that opportunity to help FC Goa immediately cancel out Sylla’s opener.
Considering that he is still unfit to play the full 90 minutes and that it was his first start of the season, Brandon Fernandes just showed the potential he can reach once he is fully ready. A complete 10/10 performance from the midfielder.
Gonzalez’s inclusion in the list of misses on the night would perhaps surprise some after looking at his stats. However, the solidity which he showed in the previous games was somehow missing against a gritty NorthEast United attack. The Spaniard often found himself bringing down opposition players at crucial moments, thereby putting his side in danger.
The fact that three out of the four tackles he made on the night were given as fouls proves the point. A couple of good long balls aside, it was a performance Ivan Gonzalez might not look back at as one of his best.
Coming on as a substitute for the less than the final half hour of the game, it was a chance for promising youngster Rochharzela to leave a mark on the game. However, right after coming on he gave away some rather avoidable fouls in his own half, while his side looked to contain the constant barrage of attacks from Goa. Moreover, he also gave away possession cheaply in a couple of instances.
In the final 10 minutes, the former Aizawl FC attacker had a great opportunity to help his side pull off a win. However, a low shot from inside the box deflected off a defender leaving his teammate Kwesi Appiah – who was through on goal, frustrated. If Rochharzela is to earn his coach’s faith to be involved in more games, he certainly needs to do better.
Having got his first start of the season, Provat Lakra had an opportunity to make a point for himself in front of his Spanish coach. However, it wasn’t the best of nights for the 23-year-old, who was rather toyed with by Brandon on the wing before delivering the perfect cross to Angulo for the equalizer. Not that Lakra was at fault for the goal, but he certainly could have done better to hold off the India international and not give him as much space as he did.
The full-back didn’t have much time to redeem himself, as Gerard Nus brought him off for the experienced Ashutosh Mehta at the break. Certainly not a memorable evening for the young defender.