Match Report (SF 1st Leg): Mumbai City 1-5 FC Goa

FC Goa registered a 5-1 win over the Islanders in a dominating performance at the Mumbai Football Arena. It was all deja vu for the Jorge Costa's side who conceded five goals against FC Goa for the second time in this season. While the first time occurred in the league stage, the Islanders stitched a 9-match unbeaten run post that. The second time came at a very wrong time for the Islanders in the first leg of the semi-final, giving FC Goa a seemingly unassailable advantage going into the second leg.

The game started off on a very quick note with both sides pressing hard in the early minutes of the game. Both sides got early free-kicks to take an early lead but the defences stood strong. The first shot on target came from Arnold Issoko who let one fly from distance but Naveen made a decent save to deny him.

As the game progressed, the intensity increased as well in a packed stadium. Rafael Bastos got himself booked in the 18th minute for showing dissent towards the referee. But, just a couple of minutes later that wasn’t the talking point as Bastos put the Islanders in front after making a superb run inside the box. Arnold’s pace was too much to handle as he took on the defence before delivering an trivela cross to perfectly find Bastos’ run.

The goal gave the home side some momentum and their first goal against FC Goa in this season as well. The happiness didn’t stay for too long with the away side knocking on the door in search for an equaliser. In the 31st minute, Goa hit back through former Islander Jackichand Singh’s strike. Coro found space and took a shot from distance to which Amrinder Singh could only palm it in front of him. Before he could react, Jackichand slotted the ball home and it was 1-1.

Just three minutes later, Bastos nearly scored his second goal of the night. He received the ball on the edge of the box before twisting and turning to dummy his marker. He took a shot but it deflected through Mourtada Fall’s legs and just inches away from the goal. At the other end, Goa were clinical in front of the goal with Mourtada doubling the visitor’s lead through a corner. He found himself unmarked in a crowded penalty box and headed the ball home to silence the home crowd.

At the stroke of half-time, the Islanders very nearly got back into the game. Machado’s free-kick hit the Goan wall and the loose ball fell to Raynier who took a shot but it was a misplaced one. His shot found Subhasish who attempted an effort on goal but Naveen made a save from point-blank distance with his leg to keep Goa’s lead intact. There was drama just before the half-time whistle, the lively Bastos fired a shot on goal from the left. Naveen spilled the ball and Modou Sougou reacted the quickest to put the ball into the back of the net. The Islanders celebrated the equaliser but it was very short lived as the linesman rightly raised his flag to signal offside. After an entertaining half, Goa lead 2-1.

It was a positive start from the Islanders as they looked to get back on level terms. Raynier Fernandes worked out a one-two with Machado before setting up Bastos in front of goal but the Brazilian’s first touch let him down. It was completely opposite with FC Goa as they attacked with intent. Jackichand found Ferran Corominas in the box at the far post with a sublime cross and the Spanish forward scored his 16th goal of the season with a header.

The away side kept pushing and Amrinder was called into action in the 57th minute. Jackichand was the main man once again, he tried his luck from distance but Amrinder tipped it over the bar. From the resulting corner, an unmarked Mourtada Fall scored his second goal through a header and it further extended Goa’s lead to 4-1.

The away side were creating plenty of chances which was a concern for the Islanders’ defence. Jorge Costa made a couple of changes by bringing on Matias Mirabaje and Pranjal Bhumij for Rafael Bastos and Raynier Fernandes. The Uruguayan nearly made an impact from a set-piece. His free-kick in the 74th minute neary reduced the deficit. He got his effort over the wall and was heading into the top corner but was denied by Naveen Kumar who looked like getting nothing wrong on the day.

While the Islanders failed to capitalise on any chances, the away side were lethal in front of the goal. Brandon Fernandes scored the 5th goal for Goa to pile up the misery on the home side along with giving the away side a massive lead. The Islanders didn’t give up and kept pushing in search of a few goals. Pranjal Bhumij did a smart dummy before testing Naveen who once again stood up to the task.

A couple of minutes later, the Goa shot-stopper was called into action again. This time, the two Mumbai City FC subs combined with Pranjal playing a through ball to find Mirabaje’s run who went for goal but his shot was straight at Naveen. It just didn’t seem like a day for Islanders to remember with the game ending 5-1 in favour of FC Goa.

Although, the task is of epic proportions for the Islanders ahead of the second leg on March 12 in Goa, Jorge Costa and Mumbai City FC will play for pride in three days’ time.