NorthEast United FC head coach Vincenzo Annese was delighted with his side’s performance as the Highlanders salvaged a crucial point in a thrilling 2-2 draw against FC Goa in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium, in Guwahati, on Sunday.

Edu Bedia saw his opener cancelled out by a Wilmar Gil penalty during injury time of the opening half. Gil came to NorthEast United FC’s rescue again in the second half as he scored from the spot again after FC Goa had reclaimed their lead through Iker Guarrotxena.

Annese was pleased with the way his side attacked on the front foot against FC Goa and stated his team can improve even further.

“We drew against a quality team. They (have players who) have played together for many years like Bedia and same for Brandon (Fernandes). We know their quality. I'm so happy for the performance when we started to press them in the attacking phase going forward and before, it never happened. So we need to keep up this improvement and the guys can do much better. They have scope to improve and under me, we have played different football. I don’t want to say it’s better, but it is different. I like to press forward. I don't like to sit back and then counter attack,” he stated in the official post-match press conference.

“We had many positives except we missed a one-on-one easy goal in the first 10 minutes. We need to concentrate more on our attacking phase. I liked the way we switched the ball from right to left, it was amazing. We really loved the performance of everybody, but we can do much better. I believe our team can improve more and more. We can create something special for the future.. and I hope we work in this direction for the future,” Annese added.

Annese made two changes to his starting lineup following their defeat to Bengaluru FC, with Jithin MS and new signing Kule Mbombo featuring in place of Romain Phillipoteaux and Rochharzela. Annese felt it was a team effort that contributed to a draw and had words of praise for Mbombo, who made his Hero ISL debut.

“We changed our formation in the defensive phase and our pressing, but we didn't change formation in our build up and during possession because Jithin (MS) was wide. I'm so happy that I have Kule Mbombo. He is one player that has a lot of quality. But he needs to understand his role in possession and other players. He was out for one and a half months and it was a bit heavy (the load). It’s not easy to get in form but the players gave a lot for the team (and show) that (they can) create a good performance for the future. The fitness (was good) during our defensive phase where we have problems all the time during set-pieces, corner kicks and free-kicks. I liked Romain too when he entered the pitch. He was so fresh and so good. Everybody is committed to doing well for this team,” he stated.