Panjim: FC Goa went down 2-1 to East Bengal in a tightly contested affair at the Bambolim Athletic Stadium in their first pre-season friendly in Goa. The visitors took the lead through an early glancing header. FC Goa left it late to get an equaliser through Manvir Singh but a defensive lapse late on helped the Bengal side clinch victory in a tough game.
East Bengal started the tie on the front foot and dominated the early exchanges. However, it was the home side that had the first opportunity on goal. Brandon Fernandes was brought down near the box and Manuel Lanzarote stepped up to a curl free kick towards the near post. The opposition keeper managed to get a hand on it to tip it away. East Bengal then took the lead moments later after the Goan defence failed to pick up an attacker who rose highest to glance the ball past Kattimani from a well taken corner. The visitors continued to dominated the home side and passed the ball around with ease. They could have been two goals to the good if not for a superb save by Kattimani. A beautifully weighted long ball found the striker who beat the defence. Kattimani came rushing off his line to thwart him however to keep the deficit down to only one.
As the half progressed, the Gaurs began to get a foothold in the game. Manvir Singh had the chance to bring the score level but his header from Lanzarote’s corner creeped just wide of the post. Moments later, the Gaurs had a legitimate claim for a penalty waved off after Manvir was brought down clumsily in the box. The referee however, waved for play to continue. Sergio Lobera’s charges began to fashion more and more chances for themselves as the game progressed. This time Brandon whipped in a good low cross from the left which Manvir managed to tip goalwards. The keeper however kept his shot out. Lanzarote had another chance to bring the tie level from a free kick just outside the area after another poor foul on Manvir. His effort seemed destined for the top corner, but the keeper once again dived to his right to tip the ball away. As the half petered to a close, it looked increasingly likely that the Gaurs would level the match but failed to do so before the referee called for half time.
Chinglensana Singh came on for Ali Mohammad at the start of the second half. The momentum that the Gaurs had built up towards the latter part of the second half was nullified by East Bengal who pushed forward continuously. Lanzarote though, should have had his side level against the run of play early in the second period. After superb play down the left involving Narayan Das and Brandon, Manvir was sent free down the left wing. He put in a perfect cross for Lanzarote who instinctively headed at goal. The keeper was up to the task however, and made a superb save. The away side began to fashion a number of chances in the second period but were unable to double their lead.
It was the Gaurs who continued to create chances for themselves but were unable to convert. Lanzarote found himself one on one against the keeper but was unable to get the ball past East Bengal’s shot stopped after brilliant work from Jahouh sent the Spaniard clear. Midway through the half, Mandar, Seriton and Kattimani came off for Liston Colaco, Amey Ranawade and Naveen Kumar while Pratesh Shirodkar was brought on for Pronay Halder moments later.
The Gaurs continued to pile forward in the hope of an equaliser and they were finally rewarded late on after excellent work from Brandon who beat two defenders down the left, ran into the box and lobbed an inch perfect cross for Manvir who promptly headed into an open net. The joy was short lived however as the visitors went ahead two minutes later. A defensive lapse saw the East Bengal striker one on one with the keeper and he curled it past the near post to beat Naveen. As the game petered to a close, the Gaurs pushed high up but were unable to come away with victory.
FC Goa will take on Mohun Bagan AC in the next friendly fixture on 9th November 2017 at the Bambolim Athletic Stadium.