In a spectacular display of football prowess, homegrown talent Parthib Gogoi stole the limelight as NorthEast United FC secured a convincing 4-0 victory in their season opener against Shillong Lajong at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati. The 20-year-old rising star exhibited his skills with a first senior hat-trick that too on his Durand Cup debut to propel the Highlanders to an impressive win in their first Group D match.
Right from the outset, NorthEast United FC demonstrated their intent as they continuously threatened the Lajong goal, keeping the opposition defence on their toes. The breakthrough came just before the half-hour mark when Rochharzela made a powerful run from the left and unleashed a shot towards the goal. Though the initial attempt was saved, Parthib Gogoi was quick to react, seizing the loose ball and expertly chipping it into the net to open the scoring in the 26th minute.
Building on the momentum, the Highlanders continued to apply pressure on Shillong Lajong, and their persistence paid off again in the 36th minute. Romain Philippoteaux's surging run into the box created chaos in the Lajong defense, resulting in a foul that led to a penalty. The Frenchman stepped up and calmly converted the spot-kick, doubling NorthEast United FC's advantage just before the half-time whistle.
The second half saw changes in the lineup with Jithin replacing Rochharzela and later, Shajan Franklin, Hira Mondal, and Gani Ahmed Nigam coming on as substitutes. The tactical adjustments bore immediate fruit as NorthEast United capitalised on a defensive lapse allowing Parthib showcased to slot home an easy tap-in in the 65th minute. The 20-year-old then completed his hat-trick five minutes later with Jithin playing a key part. This was Parthib's Durand Cup debut and
Shillong Lajong pressed forward, creating some opportunities in the final 20 minutes. However, NorthEast United FC's solid defensive line, and Mirshad in goal, ensured that the clean sheet was preserved.
With an impressive start to their Durand Cup campaign, Juan Pedro Benali's side is brimming with confidence as the Highlanders now look forward to their clash against FC Goa on 12th August.
Scoreline: NorthEast United FC 4-0 Shillong Lajong | Philippoteaux 36' (P)
Scorers: Parthib 26', 65', 70;