FC Goa fell to its second straight loss as NorthEast United FC beat them by 2-0 to kick off the Matchweek 16 action of the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 at the Fatorda Stadium tonight. 

A 69th minute opener Tomi Juric was followed by a set-piece situation 11 minutes later where Nestor Albiach headed in a corner that took a deflection off FC Goa defender Odei Onaindia to result into an own goal to double their lead. 

The Gaurs and their 12-game-long unbeaten streak was snapped by the Mohun Bagan Super Giant (MBSG) at the same venue last week. They must have hoped to bounce back against a Highlanders unit that has endured middling success so far in the campaign. However, Juan Pedro Benali & Co. struck back strongly from their 4-2 loss to the Mariners previous weekend with a clinical performance that saw them keep a clean sheet tonight. 

NorthEast United FC has been given a boost since striker Tomi Juric joined them in January, and the forward scored his fifth goal in four matches with a spot-kick that he converted with ease. Juric boasts of a tall frame, but he was fleet footed enough to smartly earn a foul off Seriton Fernandes as the game was about to enter its final 20 minutes. There was never any doubt about who would step up for the penalty, and Juric drilled the ball into the bottom right corner when FC Goa goalkeeper Arshdeep Singh dived incorrectly towards the left. Unfortunately for the visitors though, Juric had to be stretchered off the field soon afterwards, as he appeared to have picked up a knock. The extent of the injury is still unknown and it could have massive repercussions on NorthEast United FC and their prospects moving forward. 

Nevertheless, the Highlanders built a safe lead soon afterwards, with Spaniard Nestor Albiach coming to the fore after Juric’s substitution. During a corner kick, Nestor charged towards Odaindia and jumped the highest to head the ball, which nicked off the defender to head into the back of the net. Whilst the striker celebrated jubilantly, the strike was later adjudged to be an own goal. 

The home team had its fair share of chances earlier, with Carl McHugh teasing the NorthEast United FC defence with his aerial prowess twice within the first 10 minutes. Carlos Martinez and Boris Singh had joined hands with the latter providing enticing deliveries that the forward tried to net both through the feet and the head, but to no avail. 

Key Performer of the Match 

Tomi Juric (NorthEast United FC)

The striker has had a massive impact on the Highlanders since he joined the setup, and tonight was another evidence of that. He played an active part in the build up, completing 14 out of his 21 passes. He made one clearance and also earned three fouls, one of which led to the spot-kick that he put past Arshdeep Singh. 

What’s next for both teams?

FC Goa’s next match will be against Kerala Blasters FC on February 25, whereas NorthEast United FC’s coming fixture is on Hyderabad FC on March 4. 

Brief Scores

NorthEast United FC 2 (Tomi Juric 69’, Odei Onaindia OG 80’) - 0 FC Goa

For more information, visit the match centre: https://indiansuperleague.com/matchcentre/62561