ISL 2020-21: 4 things we learnt from FC Goa vs Northeast United FC

Northeast United continued their fine start to the season by taking a point against FC Goa. Courtesy: ISL
Northeast United continued their fine start to the season by taking a point against FC Goa. Courtesy: ISL
Karthik Raj

FC Goa failed yet again to pick up a win as they settled for a 1-1 draw against Northeast United FC in the 2020-21 Indian Super League Season at the Fatorda Stadium in Margao, Goa on Monday. With this result, Northeast United moved onto the second position in the points table while Goa languish at the seventh spot with just two points.

Quite predictably, FC Goa dominated the possession in the first half by quite a big margin with the mid-fielders switching positions in an attempt to put off the Highlanders’ backline. However, it was Northeast United who opened the scoring in the 40th minute after the referee Crystal John awarded a penalty following Ivan Gonzalez’ slight push at Idrissa Sylla. Sylla then found the back of the net twice after the penalty had to be re-taken due to encroachment from Rempuia.

However, their lead was to be short-lived as Igor Angulo deflected a superb Brandon Fernandes cross to equalize the scoreline. In the second-half, the game opened up slightly but FC Goa still dominated the possession statistics without troubling the visitors’ defense. Northeast United, on their own, had a great chance to take the lead in the 87th minute but Ninthoinganba Meetei’s poor cut-back fizzled off a promising counter-attacking move which was initiated by the young winger himself. In the end, Northeast United stayed solid enough to prevent FC Goa from taking home all the three points even as tempers flared on the touchline.

Here are four things we learnt from this interesting contest:

Northeast United maintain their defensive discipline

Just like the first two matches, Northeast United were pretty hard to break down for FC Goa. The hosts dominated the possession especially in the first half by a 70-30 margin but they couldn’t use the ball to much effect. Having replaced Ashutosh Mehta, Provat Lakra did a decent job at right-back even though he didn’t assert himself.

The other three in the backline carried off from the first two matches. Dylan Fox, in particular, was impressive as he intervened whenever any cross or long ball was directed to the box. This ensured that Igor Angulo couldn’t see much of the ball.

FC Goa lack creativity to open up Northeast United’s defense

The fact that FC Goa will dominate the ball is well-known and Northeast United seemed to have accepted it. Thus, the onus was on Goa to create chances as Northeast were pretty compact. The mid-field trio of Jorge Ortiz, Alberto Noguera and Brandon Fernandes were pretty flexible as they switched positions constantly but they failed to get into favourable spaces both on and off the ball.

After Brandon Fernandes was substituted off in the minute, Goa’s attack was mainly concentrated on the right flank but the full-back Seriton Fernandes tended to dwell too much on the ball. He often pulled out from crosses or when he did cross, the Northeast defenders were at the right place to block it. This forced Juan Ferrando to get Jorge Ortiz to switch to the right flank after starting the second half on the left wing but the left-back Gurjinder Singh was solid enough to keep Goa at bay.

Gerard Nus comes up with some early squad rotation

Due to the addition of a new team in the form of East Bengal and the season being delayed to the covid pandemic, the season was always going to be cramped and the teams had to adapt quickly. Unlike other sides, Gerard Nus decided to rotate in just the third-match by resting the likes of Ashutosh Mehta, Federico Gallego, Ninthoiganba Meetei and Kwesi Appiah. In fact, Gallego didn’t feature in the squad sheet at all as Nus deemed him to be not ready for this match.

This was expected since the Highlanders had to play their third game in just nine days. The replacements- Luis Machado, PM Britto, Provat Lakra and Idrissa Sylla didn’t fail to impress as they worked pretty hard to gain the team a point against a strong FC Goa side.

Poacher Igor Angulo finds the net again

The veteran Igor Angulo took one of the better chances that came his way to score his third goal of the season. Courtesy: ISL
The veteran Igor Angulo took one of the better chances that came his way to score his third goal of the season. Courtesy: ISL

Igor Angulo came to India for this season with a great reputation after scoring loads of goals in Poland. As a result, there was a great air of expectation from the 36-year-old Angulo to replace the perennial ISL goal-scoring machine in the form of Ferran Corominas.

After three matches, Angulo has definitely proved that he is a clinical finisher. After scoring two goals against Bengaluru FC, the Spanish striker found the back of the net against Northeast United too. The creative Brandon Fernandes did come up with an inviting cross but Angulo still had to do a lot since Benjamin Lambot was closing him down. However, Angulo still managed to just deflect the ball to the bottom right corner. Apart from that goal, Angulo couldn’t contribute much but that is the type of player he is.

Corominas was a more all-round player as he used to often drop into the mid-field to spread passes to the wings but Angulo is different from him. This is where FC Goa need to find a method to get good through balls or more crosses to him. The lack of supply also made the move to not bring on Alexander Romario quite surprising as he delivered a fantastic cross to Angulo in the game against Bengaluru FC.

Juan Ferrando might need to work out a way to bring Romario back into the line-up. This might force the Spanish tactician to go back to James Donachie as Ivan Gonzalez’ center-back partner even though Aiban Dohling came up with quite an impressive performance on Monday.

Edited by Dhaval R
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