New Delhi: Punjab FC secured their first points in the Indian Super League playing out a 1-1 draw to NorthEast United in the Round 3 match which was played here at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. Parthib Gogoi scored for the away side, while Melroy Assisi equalized for the Shers.
Punjab FC Head Coach Staikos Vergetis made three changes to the starting lineup bringing in Ravi Kumar in goal in place of Kiran Kumar Limbu, Greek defender Dimitrios Chatziisaias instead of Nikhil Prabhu and Amarjit Singh Kiyam, returning from national duty in place of Ashis Pradhan. NorthEast United Head Coach Juan Pedro Benali lined up his team in a 4-3-3 formation.
It was the home side that started the game brightly, keeping possession and controlling the pace of the game. Madih Talal and Juan Mera were keeping the Highlanders on their toes with their slick movement. The first chance of the game came for PFC through a good team move and Madih Talal’s shot was deflected away by the NothEast defence. On the other end, Nestor Roger’s shot was blocked expertly by Chatziisaias. Juan Mera also came close to scoring but his shot went wide. NorthEast was awarded a penalty for a foul by Khaimingthang Lhungdim on Tondonba Singh. Romain Philippoteaux’s penalty was brilliantly saved by PFC keeper Ravi Kumar keeping the scores level. Nestor Roger came close to scoring, but his left footed curler went out of the crossbar with Ravi Kumar rooted to his spot. The deadlock was finally broken in the injury time of the first half. Khaimingthang Lhungdim and Amarjit Singh Kiyam’s confusion in clearing the ball led to Parthib Gogoi finishing it expertly to give the Highlanders the lead.
The Shers started the second half with more vigor, constantly attacking the NorthEast half with Mera, Talal and Majcen linking up brilliantly. PFC gaffer brought in the changes introducing Prasanth K. Mohan and Nikhil Prabhu. Prasanth immediately started to make an impact with his speed down the left flank. PFC equalized in the 63rd minute through a corner from Juan Mera. His beautiful delivery was met brilliantly by Melroy Assisi who ran free from his marker to score the club’s first home goal. The home side was constantly putting pressure on the defence of the Highlanders, especially Juan Mera who was showcasing some brilliant skills. Madih Talal had a golden opportunity to take the lead as he found himself free inside the box, but his header went above the goal. There was no clear cut chances for both teams as they settled for a point each. The official attendance of the first home game was 5914.
Punjab FC have one point from three matches while NorthEast United have four points from three matches. Punjab FC will face Jamshedpur FC on 22nd October at the JRD Tata Sports Complex in Jamshedpur.