One man down in the second half, FC Goa managed to secure a hard-fought 1-1 draw against Kolkata heavyweights SC East Bengal, who meanwhile failed to take advantage of the situation. Both teams faltered in the final third, despite creating numerous chances. Both goals scored in the game were a product of defensive mistakes made by both teams. Igor Angulo scored the opening goal for FC Goa in the first half as Danny Fox equalized for East Bengal in the first quarter of the second. A few minutes later, Goa’s Edu Bedia, who was booked earlier, was sent off for an unnecessary challenge on Pilkington.
Goa FC started the game poorly giving away a penalty 19 seconds into the game as defender Ali misread the run of Narayan Das cliping his feet just on the edge of the box. Pilkington however missed the penalty the ball hitting the post. Goa still managed to control the game however dominating possession and stopped EB from progressing through the middle. Meanwhile, East Bengal had more bodies in the box, as both teams indulged in the more physical aspects of football and the fouls keep mounting up. Goa continued to create pressure on EB through the likes of Ortiz, Igor Angulo and Noguera who kept on threading balls easily through the EB defence. The first breakthrough of the game came in the 39th minute when the current top scorer in the ISL Igor Angulo, finished beautifully, thanks to an excellent through ball from Noguero. Angulo managed to slot home his 10th goal of the season so far for FC Goa. Meanwhile, Robbie Fowler’s East Bengal tried to open up the game, through Bright Enobakhare, but failed to have any impact until the start of the second half.
East Bengal managed to put FC Goa, under more stress, as they started to play more aggressively soon in the second half. They kept bodies forward, cutting off FC Goa’s passage lines, and maintaining a high backline. This tactical adaption provided more space for Bright Enobakhare to make clear runs through from the left-wing. He dribbled past several players, drawing fouls and winning free-kicks at dangerous positions outside the box. The game finally shifted in favour of East Bengal in the 64th minute, when veteran defender Daniel Fox headed home his first goal since 2012. A brilliant ball whipped into the box by Pilkington fell directly into the path of the former Southampton man and he made no mistake in sending it home. Shortly after the equaliser, Edu Bedia was sent off for an unnecessary challenge from behind on Pilkington.
East Bengal continued to dominate, getting closer to goal more than once in the dying minutes of the game as FC Goa struggled to create anything new. A couple of brilliant saves from young goalkeeper Dheeraj saved the day for FC Goa in the dying minutes. In general, it turned out to be another entertaining match in the ISL with both teams playing end-to-end football creating plenty of chances. At the end there was another delightful run by Bright Enobakhare, who deserves much of the credit for his successful dribbles and creativity, something which will prove to be vital for East Bengal in the long run.
FC Goa are now in third place in the table whilst East Bengal sit 10th in the table as both teams shared the spoils. FC Goa’s next fixture in the ISL will be against NorthEast United on 4th of February and East Bengal meet Bengaluru FC on the 2nd of February.