Noah Sadaoui and Anwar Ali shine as Goa prevails over NorthEast United

Noah Sadaoui and Iker Guarrotxena ran the show once again for Goa

Noah Sadaoui shone for Goa once again as they eased past NorthEast United at the Fatorda Stadium on Saturday. The Gaurs were easily the better side, scoring two goals early through Edu Bedia and Iker Guarrotxena while Wilma Jordan snatched a late equaliser for his side. 

It took Carlos Pena’s men a mere 10 minutes to break the deadlock, they had been knocking at the door and had looked dangerous from the get-go. Sadaoui latched onto a through pass from deep and delivered a teasing cross which was met by Bedia who had ghosted in at the back post and he finished with ease to give his side the lead. 

The Highlanders had failed to keep a clean sheet in their previous 22 outings, and on Saturday they failed to keep out the opposition once again. The home side was dominating their opponents, and they doubled their lead inside the first 20 minutes. 

Vincenzo Alberto Annese’s men were playing a high line and they simply couldn’t deal with the crossfield passes from their opposition. Sadaoui latched onto a long pass and ran through on goal, out came Mirshad Michu but he ended up taking down the attacker, after which the custodian saw a yellow card. 

From the resulting free-kick, Brandon Fernandes couldn’t find a way past the wall, but the ball deflected onto the foot of an onrushing Guarrotxena who volleyed past the visitors’ defence to score his third goal of the season. 

Pena’s men could have very easily wrapped up the contest before the half-hour mark as Anwar Ali fed the ball to Noah, who again proved to be a menace as he cut onto his right foot and unleashed a rocket which narrowly sailed beside the post. 

At the hour mark, Annese’s side had their first real sight at goal, Tondonba Singh whipped in a cross, and the ball reached Pragyan Gogoi but his effort was well blocked by the hosts. For all their huffing and puffing, the Highlanders had failed to create anything of note in the first half hour, while the Gaurs could have easily had three or four goals. 

The Guwahati-based club nearly pull one back, 2 minutes before the end of the first half, Romain Philippoteaux received the ball just outside the box and he pulled the trigger, missing by a whisker. 

Just before the referee blew for halftime, they came close again, Rochharzela received the ball after a lofted ball from the left wing, he took aim but his shot was deflected, and Dheeraj Singh collected it with ease. 

The Highlanders started the second half from where they left off, an attack from the left saw Ali clear the ball, but it reached Emil Benny whose effort fizzed narrowly past the goalpost. 

Pena’s men nearly added a third goal as Sadaoui combined well with his teammates in a pocket of space, shifted the ball on his left foot and unleashed a shot, but Mirshad was equal to it. 

Annese’s plan to play a high line had backfired, near the hour mark Noah again beat the offside trap and ran behind the visitors’ defence line but his chipped effort was well read by Mirshad as the golden opportunity went begging. 

Michael Jakobsen’s side was building pressure, but the Gaurs were simply too good at both ends of the pitch. In the 75th minute, Alvaro Vazquez showed great skills as he opened up the Highlanders’ defence and played Noah in behind who rounded off the goalie but lost his footing somehow and his attempt at goal struck the post and came back to Mirshad. 

Gani Nigam won the ball back in midfield a couple of minutes before the end of regulation time as Annese’s men piled the pressure on, he delivered a cross but Dheeraj collected it with ease. 

The young goalie miscued a clearance shortly afterwards as the visitors tried to attack, they earned a couple of corners but couldn’t trouble the home side. Deep into the added time, the Highlanders got a golden opportunity to grab a consolation as Anwar conceded a penalty for handball, and Wilmar duly dispatched the spot-kick, however, it proved to be the last action of the game as the referee thereafter blew for full time. 

The third goal for Pena’s men could have wrapped up the contest but it didn’t come and thus they left the gate open for the Highlanders. Next up, the Gaurs are due to travel to the Furnace to take on Jamshedpur, while Annese’s men will host ATK Mohun Bagan in Guwahati next week.