Goakhabar:FC Goa romped to their third straight victory, putting Jamshedpur FC away 3-0 in another clinical display at the JRD Tata Sports Complex in Jamshedpur to climb to third on the league table. Ferran Corominas’ brace and a late Manuel Lanzarote goal put the men of steel to the sword and took the Gaurs to their third semi-finals in the past four years. Coro has now scored an incredible 18 goals in 18 games in the league with Lanzarote not far behind on 12.
The home side started the match strongly, putting pressure on the Goan defence in an attempt to take an early lead. The Goans were struggling to touch the ball as the men in red controlled the early proceedings. Wellington Priori’s early long throw towards Andre Bikey had the Goans in all sorts of trouble. However, the burly central defender fouled Ahmed Jahouh in his attempt to head the ball goalwards. Things didn’t go to plan though for Steve Coppell and his charges as goalkeeper Subrata Pal was sent off on the 7th minute mark. Manuel Lanzarote launched a superb long ball from inside his own half towards Ferran Corominas who gave chase but appeared to lose the race as Pal came bursting off his line to punch the ball away. Unfortunately, the keeper’s punch was outside the box and the referee immediately blew his whistle and showed the goalkeeper a red card, giving the visitors a massive boost so early on in the contest. Lanzarote stepped up to take the resultant free-kick from a good position but hit his attempt over the crossbar.
The home side, despite being a man light, were still attacking the Goans. However, with more space to work with, Sergio’s charges began to find their feet and move the ball around well. The Gaurs could have taken the lead in the 21st minute after Lanzarote lobbed a ball forward for Coro who got on to the end of it and smashed an effort towards the far post with a first time shot. However, he didn’t catch the ball well enough and Ghosh was able to make the stop. The Gaurs seemed content soaking up the pressure and hitting the home side on the counter-attack. As the half wore on, the men in blue began to dominate the hosts and they were finally rewarded in the 29th minute. Hugo Boumous received the ball on the right flank and threaded a peach of a through ball down the wing towards Seriton Fernandes who rolled the ball across the face of goal for Coro who tapped into an empty net. Jamshedpur had a mountain to climb thereafter but with a man down, they struggled to get the ball. Izu Azuka had a chance towards the end of the first half but hit his effort at the near post where Naveen made an easy save. Neither team was able to put the ball into the back of the net before time in the first half ran out with FC Goa going into the break with a massive advantage.
FC Goa suffered a blow in the second period with Hugo Boumous being replaced by Edu Bedia. The Moroccan midfielder pulled up with injury just before the end of the first period and had to be taken off. The hosts started the second half on top, getting a free-kick outside the box. Memo stepped up but sent his low shot wide. However, things got from bad to worse for the men of steel thereafter. Lanzarote picked the run of Coro to perfection with a sublime long ball. The Spanish striker beat the offside trap, charged forward and trapped the ball with stunning panache, tapping it past Ghosh easily after that to score his 17th goal.
Jamshedpur were beginning to throw numbers forward in an attempt to score a goal. The Gaurs were defending in numbers to keep them out. Seriton’s foul on Jerry gave them a chance to get one back with Priori finding an unmarked Azuka at the far post. The Nigerian however, was unable to keep the ball down. Coro had the chance to score his third hat-trick of the tournament a few minutes later after yet another long ball from Lanzarote but the ball was on his left foot and from an angle, the Spaniard was unable to beat Ghosh. Next it was Jahouh’s turn to attempt a shot and he did so with a spectacular effort from outside the box, shooting on the volley from Lanzarote’s corner. The ball thundered off the crossbar much to the delight of the men in red. That would have been an incredible goal, had it gone in.
With JFC under immense pressure, FC Goa were utilizing the space created by the full backs bombing forward and they were rewarded for the third time for their persistence. Mandar received the ball on the left, cut in and played the ball to Coro who took a touch and found an unmarked Lanzarote in the box. Edu ran across and faked a touch superbly to throw off a defender, giving his compatriot enough time and space. The attacking midfielder took a touch and calmly slotted the ball past Ghosh with his right foot.
In a surprise turn of events however, Naveen Kumar was sent off against the run of play for the exact offence that his compatriot was guilty of earlier. A long ball forward was chased down by Kervens Belfort but the keeper came off his line and handled the ball outside the box. The referee gave him his marching orders immediately to bring the away side level on terms with the hosts in terms of number of men on the pitch. Pronay Halder was sacrificed to bring Laxmikant Kattimani on to occupy the space between the sticks. The Goan goalkeeper was made to work in the closing stages of the competition with the men of steel pouring forward to attack. Lanzarote, Coro and Edu all had chances on the counter attack but none of them were able to convert. Kattimani was on hand to make a late save from Prori to keep the clean sheet intact.
The Gaurs have progressed to the semi-finals with their win in Jamshedpur and will take on familiar rivals Chennaiyin FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Fatorda on 10th March 2018 in what already promises to be a blockbuster of an encounter.