The Islanders’ impressive 9-match unbeaten run came to a halt after FC Goa’s hard-fought 2-0 win at the Arena. Edu Bedia’s scrappy goal and a Ferran Corominas penalty in the second half helped the visitors to a double over Jorge Costa’s boys who missed Modou Sougou due to an injury. The Islanders had their share of chances but failed to capitalize in a game of very fine margins.
FC Goa started the game on a bright note with Mandar Rao Dessai testing Amrinder Singh as early as the second minute, our No.1 made a good save by tipping the ball over the crossbar. The next opportunity also came Goa’s way when Coro tried to beat Amrinder from distance but this time it was a rather comfortable save for him.
In a game that saw plenty of yellow cards, Goa’s full-back Seriton Fernandes was the first one to be booked for using his elbow on Rafael Bastos. Next player to go in the referee’s book was Milan Singh who brought down Edu Bedia with a late challenge. The first real chance for the Islanders came in the 21st minute with Paulo Machado sending in a cross that found an unmarked Raynier Fernandes but he couldn’t direct his header on target.
Midway through the first-half, Lucian Goian became the third player to be booked after taking down Coro who was racing down the goal. FC Goa found their stride in the next attack but two very good blocks denied the away side any sight of goal but in the very next minute the Islanders conceded a rather soft goal. Brandon Fernades played Coro through in the box who went for goal and forced Amrinder into a save. Unfortunately, the ball fell into the path of Edu Bedia who scored a simple tap in despite Subhashish doing his all to clear the ball off the line.
It was a tight affair and the Islanders found it tough to break down the Goa defence as the away side went into the break with an important one-goal lead. Just like the first half, Mandar had the first chance as he curled the ball but it flew just over the goal which gave the Islanders some relief.
The first shot on target for the home side came in the 53rd minute with Lucian Goian attempting a low shot from distance but it was an easy save for Mohammad Nawaz. The boys lifted their spirit with Arnold making it difficult for both the full-backs with his pace. He won a free-kick with his trickery from which Mirabaje tested Nawaz who made a decent save to deny the Islanders an equaliser.
Just after the hour mark, Arnold Issoko showed his skills again by feeding the ball into the path of Paulo Machado in the box who took his chances with his left-foot but Nawaz once again stood strong to keep the scoreline at 1-0. A couple of minutes later, Lucian Goian saw his header cannon off the crossbar from a Machado free-kick. It definitely seemed that the Islanders once again were failing to take their chances against FC Goa.
With the momentum and home support, the boys were pushing ahead in numbers. Mirabaje raced down the goal and tried to beat Nawaz with his weak foot but the ball deflected away for a corner. In the 78th minute, FC Goa were awarded a penalty after Coro was brought down by Subhasish in the box. He stepped up and comfortably dispatched the ball from 12 yards out to make it 2-0 and in the process became Hero ISL’s all-time goal scorer with 29 goals.
The boss made all of his allocated changes in the last 15 minutes to freshen things up with Bipin Singh, Mohammed Rafique and Vignesh Dakshinamurthy replacing Matias Mirabaje, Raynier Fernandes and Rafael Bastos respectively. Despite that, there was very little on offer with the Goa defence holding on for 3 points and completing a double over the Islanders.
With this loss, the Islanders remain on 27 points after 14 games and will take the field on 8th February in an away encounter against Jamshedpur FC at the JRD Tata Sports Complex in Jamshedpur.