Manvir Singh scored once and forced another as NorthEast United FC and FC Goa play out a hard-fought 2-2 draw in their second Group D clash of the Durand Cup 2023. The forward opened the scoring in the 25th minute and was instrumental in the home side reclaiming the lead. But the Gaurs struck twice to ensure a share of spoils at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati.
Head coach Juan Pedro Benali made two changes to his XI from the season opener against Shillong Lajong. Redeem Tlang was given his first start since his return to the Highlanders while Asheer Akhtar made his debut. The duo came on in place of Rochharzela and Michel Zabaco.
The game was played at a brisk pace with both sides unwilling to take much risks in the opening minutes. The deadlock came through in the 25th minute when FC Goa had the ball at the back and Manvir put their goalkeeper under pressure. The number 21 blocked the attempted Dheeraj Singh’s attempted clearance and the ball rolled into an unguarded net. NorthEast United FC maintained their stronghold until the final minutes of the first half when Rowllin Borges powered home the equaliser right on the stroke of half-time.
The home side, buoyed by the home support reclaimed the lead in the 52nd minute. Manvir played a key part once again with a run-in behind the Goan defence. And the 22-year-old’s attempted cross was turned into his own net by Sandesh Jhingan, restoring the Highlanders’ lead.
But it wasn’t to last as substitute Noah Sadaoui, who netted a hat-trick for the Gaurs against Shillong Lajong, slotted home an 80th minute penalty. The result keeps both sides level on points but Manolo Marquez’s side hold the top spot in Group D by virtue of superior goal difference.
NorthEast United FC will now face Downtown Heroes FC on August 20th. It will be a must-win clash for Juan Pedro Benali’s side as only three more points will put them in contention of making the quarter-finals of the competition.