FC Goa squandered the chance to reclaim the fifth spot on the Indian Super League (ISL) table as they were held to a 2-2 draw by NorthEast United FC at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati on Sunday.
This was the first time FC Goa had dropped points this season after opening the scoring. The draw means Goa will continue to remain sixth, while NorthEast remained at the bottom. This was also NorthEast United FC's first draw of the season - and only the second time they picked up points from a game.
Vincenzo Annese made two changes to his starting XI as Jithin MS and new signing Kule Mbombo came in for Romain Philippoteaux and Rochharzela. Carlos Pena fielded an unchanged XI for FC Goa.
The opening goal came around the hour-mark, courtesy of Edu Bedia, who fired a volley into the back of the net to mark his 100th appearance for FC Goa.
The visitors nearly doubled their lead three minutes later when Emil Benny's cross from the right flank came off the crossbar before the rebound was headed wide by Hira Mondal from close range.
The Highlanders did eventually breach FC Goa's defence via a penalty that was awarded in first-half stoppage time. Alex Saji's volley struck Brandon's arm and the referee pointed to the spot. Wilmar Jordan Gil stepped up and duly converted to restore parity.
In the 63rd minute, Brandon's clever flick near the halfway line allowed Noah Sadaoui to sprint towards the goal. He outpaced his marker and Sadaoui tried to round Mirshad Michu - the goalkeeper - but he was brought down and won a penalty. Iker Guarrotxena sent Michu the wrong way and put the Gaurs back in front.
However, NorthEast struck back six minutes later as Fares Arnout's clumsy tackle on Pragyan Gogoi inside the box saw the home side awarded another penalty. Gil converted his fourth spot-kick of the season to draw the Highlanders level for the second time on the evening as they held on for a point till the full-time whistle.
NorthEast visit Mumbai City FC next on January 19, while FC Goa host Kerala Blasters on January 22.