I-League: Neroca equalise late to hold East Bengal to 1-1 draw in Imphal
Neroca FC scored a last-gasp goal through Nedo Turkovic of Bosnia-Herzegovina to hold heavyweights East Bengal 1-1 and jump to the third spot in the I-League table here today.
Katsumi Yusa gave the visitors the lead in the 12th minute and the Kolkata side were on the verge of sealing a victory before Turkovic struck the equaliser in the 89th minute to the wild cheers of the home supporters at the Khuman Lampak Stadium here.
Despite the draw, East Bengal are on top of the league table with 14 points from seven matches while I-League newbies Neroca are on third with 11 points from six games.
Both teams started on a cautious note and put in more effort to hold their own half.
East Bengal took the lead from the spadework of Willis Plaza who went through the right side of the box and sent a defence-splitting pass to Japanese midfielder Katsumi who volleyed it home to silence the 28,000 strong home crowd.
The first half belonged to East Bengal, who outplayed the home side by adopting an aggressive approach. Though Neroca FC had a few good chances, they were found wanting to give the finishing touches inside the box.
To provide more thrust in the attacking third, Neroca coach Gift Raikhan brought in Turkovic in place of Israilov Akhlidin in the first half.
After the change-over, Neroca were looking more hungry for the equaliser and the Orange outfit kept the Red and Golds defenders on their toes throughout.
Neroca had a chance in the 60th minute when a corner kick from Saran Singh was well-timed by Fabien Vorbe at the goal- mouth but eventually he failed to convert it into a goal.
Finally, the moment of madness came for the Imphal-base side when Turkovic found a ball near left area of the 18-yard box and volleyed it past Luis Barreto to send the crowd into a delirium.