Luis Machado struck twice as NorthEast United salvaged a thrilling 2-2 draw against Bengaluru FC in an Indian Super League fixture in Margao on Tuesday.
Gerard Nus’ men took an early lead through a fortuitous strike from Machado (4th) but Bengaluru hit back through Juanan (13th) and substitute Udanta Singh (70th).
Just as the Blues looked set for a win, Machado (78th) struck again to ensure his team got a point.
NEUFC got off to the best possible start when they scored in just the fourth minute.
Rochharzela cut into the box and unleashed a shot at goal. His strike struck his teammate Machado and Bengaluru goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu could only look on in despair as the ball looped in.
But rather than get pegged down by the early goal, Bengaluru responded with a flurry of attacks and eventually found their equaliser as NEUFC’s lead last just over ten minutes.
A Rahul Bheke throw caused all sorts of chaos in the NEUFC box and it fell to Juanan, whose first-time shot found the back of net.
Bengaluru had a number of chances to take the lead in the first half and their coach Carles Cuadrat would have been rather displeased that they did not do so.
Ashique Kuruniyan, in the 19th minute, fired wide after a terrific run. Seven minutes later, Harmanjot Khabra found himself inside the box with an open sight on goal but his shot went wide as well.
NEUFC went close towards the end of the first half as Gurpreet had to stretch to keep a Machado freekick out. But it was Bengaluru who dominated the half and their 62 percent possession in that period was a testament to that.
The Blues started the second half in the same way as they had ended the first — dominating ball possession, creating chances but failing to cash them.
Bengaluru finally grabbed the lead in the 70th minute after some lax defending from the Highlanders.
Sunil Chhetri won a header at the edge of the box and directed it towards the far-post.
Dylan Fox should have cleared it but let it roll into the path of the onrushing Udanta, whose shot crept in under goalkeeper Gurmeet’s hands.
On the touchline, Cuadrat appeared ecstatic but his joy didn’t last long as Juanan went from hero to villain as his failure to deal with a ball from midfield allowed Machado to free himself and slot past Gurpreet and grab the equaliser.
The goal led to a frenetic final quarter with both teams getting chances to score a winner.
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