Luis Machado struck twice as NorthEast United salvaged a thrilling 2-2 draw against Bengaluru FC in an Indian Super League fixture here 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 make sure his team got a point. NEUFC got off to the most efficient imaginable 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 quite than get pegged down by the early goal, Bengaluru responded with a flurry of attacks and eventually found their equaliser as NEUFC’s lead final 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 quite a lot of chances to take the lead in the first half and their coach Carles Cuadrat would have been quite displeased that they didn’t do so.
Ashique Kuruniyan, in the 19th minute, fired wide after a terrific run. Seven minutes later, Harmanjot Khabra found himself within the box with an open sight on goal but his shot went wide as mannered.
NEUFC went near towards the end of the first half as Gurpreet had to stretch to retain a Machado freekick out. But it was once Bengaluru who dominated the half and their 62 percent possession in that period was once a testimony to that.
The Blues started the second one half in the same way as they had ended the first – dominating ball possession, creating chances but failing to cash them.
Bengaluru in spite of everything 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 must 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 delight didn’t final long as Juanan went from hero to villain as his failure to handle a ball from midfield allowed Machado to free himself and slot past Gurpreet and seize the equaliser.
The goal led to a frenetic last quarter with both teams getting chances to score a winner.
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