NorthEast United FC head coach Juan Pedro Benali felt his side didn’t deserve to lose in their tie against Punjab FC in the Indian Super League (ISL) at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium on Thursday.

Colombian forward Wilmar Jordan Gil scored the solitary goal from the spot, which separated the two sides in what was a tightly contested battle in Guwahati.

Despite creating chances in the opening half and pushing hard for the equalizing goal in the second half, the Highlanders couldn’t find the goal they desired.

Nestor Albiach came close to scoring on a couple of occasions, and a real opportunity came in the 79th minute when the Spaniard dribbled past Ravi Kumar. However, his effort on the open goal was heroically denied by Greek defender Dimitrios Chatziisaias, who flicked away to clear the danger.

Head coach Benali reflected on his side’s performance on the night and also acknowledged that his side didn’t deserve to end on the losing side.

“Sometimes, football is really unfair. We didn't deserve to lose the game and Punjab FC didn't deserve to win. That's clear.,” Benali stated in the post-match press conference.

“Today, I'm proud of the players. We fought hard and played well. However, as we entered the final quarter, there was a lack of movement up front to capitalize on the chances we had created in that area,” he opined.

NorthEast United FC were without two key foreigners, Tomi Juric and Hamza Regragui, who were sidelined due to injuries, while Asheer Akhtar was also out serving his suspension. While Tondonba Singh started in the left-back position ahead of Buanthanglun Samte.

When questioned about the absence of these players, he stated, “Of course! That's 40% of the team.”

However, the Spanish head coach believes that despite those absentees, his side performed quite well, especially the defensive line, in keeping the attacking trio of Punjab FC silent for the majority of the match.

“Punjab FC's strength has always been Madih Talal, Luka (Majcen) and (Wilmar) Jordan, but today they couldn't replicate what they did in the other matches. Defensively, we did a good job,” said Benali.