NorthEast United FC’s Parthib Gogoi scored in his third consecutive Indian Super League appearance this season, but Punjab FC managed to hold the Highlanders to a 1-1 draw at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi on Saturday.
Gogoi, 20, shot from outside of the 18-yard box at the brink of half-time to put Juan Pedro Benali’s men ahead in the game. However, the ISL debutants equalised courtesy of Melroy Melwin Assisi in the 63rd minute as both teams walked away with a point each to their name from this contest.
Benali has been gradually ingraining his style of play in the NorthEast unit. They appear to be very organised moving forward and have also developed unique set-piece routines that help them produce goal-scoring opportunities in all phases of the game.
An example of the same was evident in the 21st minute when left-back Tondonba Singh threw straight into the box from a throw-in. Mohammed Ali Bemammer nodded the ball in Néstor Albiach’s path on the right channel of the penalty box. Albiach had two opportunities to slot the ball into the net, but he was unable to do so both times.
However, Néstor more than made up for the same with his terrific hold-up play and game awareness in the added time of the first half. He steered the ball into the Punjab box amidst frequent challenges by the home team’s defenders.
However, the Spaniard managed to retain possession before he saw an onrushing Gogoi from the left flank and played a simple pass to him. Gogoi cut in and aimed straight for the top left corner, eventually converting the chance into a goal.
Punjab are finding their feet in the league and that was demonstrated by their relentless spirit even after conceding first. They were successful in doing so in the 63 minute when Juan Mera gave an inch-perfect delivery from the corner flag for Melroy on the far end of the post.
The 24-year-old met the cross perfectly and hammered the ball home to level the scores heading into the final half hour of the match.
Much to the credit of the two teams, they kept seeking the winner until the very end of the game. However, as the match entered its final 10 minutes, they resorted to consolidating their backline and settling for a solitary point from this engaging encounter.