Panaji:An enthralling first half display from FC Goa saw them edge familiar rivals Chennaiyin FC in a tight contest at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai. Ferran ‘Coro’ Corominas became the first goal scorer of the fourth ISL season with his 25th minute strike. Manuel Lanzarote lobbed in an exquisite goal to double the lead three minutes later while Mandar Rao Dessai became the first Indian goal scorer of the tournament, smashing home from close range in the 40th minute. Chennai came off the blocks quickly in the second half and got a goal after Laxmikant Kattimani’s error from Inigo Calderon’s free-kick. An 83rd minute penalty from Raphael Augusto ensured an exciting finish to the contest as the Gaurs became the first team to win this season.
It was a lively beginning to the first period of the match. Both teams were under pressure to score the first goal of the tournament and as a result, attacking football was the order of the day. The Gaurs kept possession well and played the ball around, often playing out of their defence. The home side however, had the better opening 15 minutes, controlling the game in midfield. It was Brandon Fernandes though, who had the first chance to open the scoring after Coro received the ball in the box and set him up. The Goan winger whoever, skied his effort. The Gaurs continued to pile forward in a bid to get the opening goal and they were finally rewarded in the 25th minute. Coro picked up the ball in his own half and charged forward. He played Brandon in with a through ball and the Goan midfielder drew the defenders towards him and played it further forward to Coro who ran into the box and finished it past Karanjit Singh to score the first goal of the Hero ISL 2017. After more than 180 minutes of football without a goal in the tournament, the ISL sprung to life with the Gaurs running Chennai amok. It became 2-0 in the 28th minute through an absolutely stupendous finish from Lanzarote. The Spanish midfielder received the ball in midfield and played Coro in. The striker ran on to the through ball and attempted to finish past Karanjit once more but the keeper was on hand to make a good stop. The ball ricocheted to Mandar on the right who skipped past a defender and shot at goal. Karanjit made another superb save but once again the ball fell to Lanzarote who kept his calm and lobbed the entire defence to net the Gaurs’ and the tournament’s second goal.
Chennaiyin were looking for a way back into the game thereafter and ran at the Goan defence. They came close with a few crosses from the right but none of them troubled the defence which remained alert and cleared the danger. Ten minutes after the second goal, the lead was tripled. Ahmed Jahouh did well to break up play in the middle of the park. Lanzarote picked up the ball, took on defenders and released the ball for Mandar who was unmarked on the left side of the penalty area. The winger wasted no time finishing into the Chennai goal once more. FC Goa had one more chance in the 40th minute when Brandon was played in but Karanjit came running off his line and took out the midfielder. He was promptly shown a yellow card. Brandon stepped up to take the resulting free-kick which just evaded the goal. Not long after, the referee called for time on the half.
It was the home side that came out all guns blazing in the second period and should have pulled a goal back almost immediately. A mistake from Bruno Pinheiro presented substitute Gregory Nelson with a chance. The Dutch player found himself one on one with Kattimani but his shot came off the upright and was subsequently cleared by Ali. This was a huge let off for the Gaurs. As the half progressed, the Gaurs began to get back into the game. Lanzarote played Coro in once more in the 63rd minute but the Spaniard’s touch took the ball to wide and the chance was lost. Seven minutes later, the Super Machans had a goal back through an error from Kattimani. A free-kick at the edge of the box was taken low by Inigo Calderon and went straight to Kattimani but the Goan keeper managed to let the ball slip through his hands and into the goal.
Thereafter, the Gaurs began to wrest control of the game again, keeping possession and pushing up the pitch. Narayan Das fizzed a superb ball into the box in the 74th minute but there was no one to tap in. Brandon was withdrawn in the 79th minute for Liston Colaco. Four minutes later however, Chennai got yet another goal back to make things interesting in the last few minutes. A long ball was played into Goa’s box; Kattimani and Ali both made a dash for it along with Jeje who went down and appealed for a penalty. The referee pointed to the spot much to the disappointment of the Gaurs. Raphael Augusto stepped up and sent Kattimani the wrong way. Chennai continued to pile on the pressure in a bid to crack the Goan defence and could have had the equalizer not long after when Gregory Nelson received the ball just outside the box and smashed his effort towards the near post. The Goan skipper however, got down well to his right to save. The Gaurs’ defence remained compact and attempted to play on the counter as time ticked away. Five minutes into stoppage time, the referee called time on the contest.
The Gaurs will take on Mumbai City FC at the Mumbai Football Arena on 25th November 2017 in their next encounter and will look to continue their winning ways.