Goa: Hyderabad FC needed a late goal from top-scorer Aridane Santana to win a point, after a spirited display against East Bengal, on Friday night in Vasco. Bright Enobakhare opened the scoring for the hosts in the 59th minute but HFC skipper Aridane found the back of the net in the 92nd minute, in yet another thrilling contest between the two sides.
The point takes Hyderabad FC to 3rd place, just above FC Goa, who are in action on Saturday. With this result, Manolo Marquez’s side extend their unbeaten run to nine games.
The hosts were under pressure right from kick-off as the Hyderabad’s front-line pressed high up and managed to keep them away from goal. Akash Mishra and Liston Colaco looked lively in the first half but the first real chance of the game fell to Joel Chianese, who was released by Lluis Sastre’s measured ball, through the middle.
The Australian attacker was denied time to take his shot as Subrata Paul, rushed out and made a crucial block to keep the score at 0-0. The goalkeeper also denied Hyderabad on a couple of other occasions as he was kept busy for most of the half.
Laxmikant Kattimani also made a crucial, double-save 40 minutes into the game as he denied Ankit Mukherjee on two occasions within seconds. He also pulled out a superb save seconds before the break from an Anthony Pilkington effort that was headed into the back of the net. This meant that the two sides went into the break on level terms after an eventful half.
But it took less than 15 minutes after the restart for Bright to find the opening as he got at the end of a flick-on from Pilkington, a move that started from a Hyderabad FC set-piece. The SCEB attacker made no mistake, having picked up the ball inside his own half, and put East Bengal in front, just before the hour mark.
Hyderabad could have had a penalty not long later, for a handball inside the box while Bright looked to have been brought down by Kattimani at the other end. But both penalty shouts were ignored by the referee as the game burst into life for the last quarter of an hour.
Manolo added the likes of Fran Sandaza, Mohammad Yasir, Rohit Danu and Sahil Tavora to the mix along with Nikhil Poojary, as Hyderabad pushed high for an equalizer. And it arrived two minutes into extra time.
Rohit Danu did well to cut in from the right and feed Sandaza, who made a smart run in the box. The Spaniard pulled it across the six-yard box and found Aridane, waiting at the far post. The skipper made no mistake, as he scored his eighth goal of the season to bring his side back on level terms.
A rash tackle from Mohammad Yasir, four minutes into added time saw the No. 10 see a red, the first for a player from Hyderabad.
Aridane hit the bar, and came close on a couple of other occasions throughout the game while Sandaza scored a goal that was ruled out as offside. Hyderabad FC controlled the game well but had to settle for a point at the end.
Akash Mishra, who also tested Subrata Paul on goal, was the ‘Hero of the Match’ on the night while Joao Victor, Liston Colaco, Lluis Sastre, Kattimani and Chianese all put in decent performances in this game.
HFC are back in action when they host Kerala Blasters at the Tilak Maidan in Vasco, on Tuesday, the 16th of February.