It was heartbreak for NorthEast United FC in their opening match of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2022-23 season as they went down to Bengaluru FC in the Sree Kanteerava Stadium, in Bengaluru, on Saturday.

Alan Costa netted a late winner to ensure the three points for the Blues. There was added drama soon after that as NorthEast United FC midfielder Jon Gaztanaga found the back of the net, but his strike was ruled out as offside by the match officials.

NorthEast United FC assistant coach Paul Groves attended the post-match press conference and felt there were plenty of positives for his team, despite a narrow defeat for the Highlanders.

Here are the excerpts:

What do you make of the result and the team’s performance?

I think you have to take the whole 90 minutes as a whole. And certainly, with regards to how we played, the amount of chances that we created, I thought we more than deserve to win the game. I think if you create that many chances against the team that perhaps got the best home record in the league, I think you come away very disappointed because of the fact that the goal was ruled out and that we didn't convert some of the chances.But the players can be proud of what they produced tonight.

What do you make of Jithin MS’ performance? He troubled the Bengaluru FC defence early on and had some good chances to score as well.

It's difficult to single individuals out, because I think collectively, the substitutes that came on, they contributed well. We controlled the game completely in the second half with a lot of possession and it was some speculative opportunities for them. Set plays are always going to create a problem for most teams and you have to deal with that.

On the substitution of Emil Benny in the first half?

It was an injury. He actually took a quite harsh fall and he dislocated his shoulder which was put back in and then he was playing through pain. Emil was one of our strongest players in this short period that we've had to sort of get the team ready. It was a loss, but the players that have come in, all the substitutes contributed and played. So they players can be proud of themselves.

Ending up on the losing side does not display the kind of performance that your team put up. Do you think that there were a lot of chances that could have made the difference?

We will take the positives from the game. But I think the hardest thing in football is always to score a goal. If we create that amount of opportunities, we would like to think that we can take one of them. But that can happen sometimes and we have to just keep working to improve. We've had a preseason that was obviously well documented. So you know, it's been a tough result for some of the players but they can be very proud of what they've brought on show tonight.

We had a packed house here in Bengaluru with the fans. How do you think it helps the players?

Tremendously. The fans and the support that they've given us, That's why the players wanted to show their appreciation at the end of the game and show that we're thankful that they came along. They got behind us and they supported us, and hopefully going forward we can give them something to get behind and add one or two goals perhaps to the chances that we can create.