Two red cards and three goals made for an entertaining Thursday night here at the Fatorda Stadium as FC Goa succumbed to their first loss on home turf this season. The Gaurs went down 1-2 to Bengaluru FC with Sunil Chhetri scoring the winner in 77th minute of the game.
Bengaluru took the lead courtesy of an instinctive finish by Rahul Bheke. Two red cards and 38 minutes later, Goa was back on level terms thanks to Brandon Fernandes’ second goal in as many home games.
The away side, nonetheless, had the last laugh as Sunil Chhetri bagged the winner five minutes later, leaving Goa crestfallen.
It was the home side on the front foot early on as Hugo Boumous had the first big opportunity of the game. A brilliant low whipped ball from Carlos Pena nearly found Coro in the middle. The scuffle in the middle saw the ball fall kindly for Boumous. His attempt was thwarted by Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, who came out just in time and made himself big enough to save from point-blank range.
The Gaurs kept up the pressure in the following minutes with Brandon Fernandes’ shot going wide a minute later, whilst a through ball from Boumous nearly saw Seriton Fernandes get at the end of it in the 21st minute.
Bengaluru started to come out of their shell as time wore on. Their first attempt on goal came on the 28-minute mark. Nawaz was called into action as a Sunil Chhetri shot was saved with much ease by the teenager.
Nawaz, however, was unable to prevent the Blues from taking the lead six minutes later. Rahul Bheke found himself at the end of a shot from Xisco following a corner, which caught the Gaurs’ defence napping. The Spaniard’s attempt fizzled through the crowd in the box before finding Bheke at the far post. His instinctive flick helped Bengaluru get the lead against the run of play.
The men from the Garden City could have doubled their lead in the first half. Bheke pounced on a mistake from Fall and hit a first time shot that scraped the crossbar, resulting in reverberating moans all around the ground.
If the task of coming back against the still-undefeated Bengaluru was not hard enough, it became even tougher when Mohamed Ali was sent off for his second yellow two minutes into the second half. The game would be back on even terms 12 minutes later, at least numerically, when Dimas was sent for early showers because of a high boot that caught Boumous near the face.
With both teams down to 10, the Gaurs began to ramp up the tempo in search for an equaliser. The home side’s high line was nearly caught out though as the game went into its 69th minute. Thankfully for Goa, Nawaz was equal to the task as the youngster came out just in time to narrow down the angle and keep Nishu Kumar’s attempt at bay.
Goa would continue to build on the lead and finally get their deserved goal three minutes later. A fluffed clearance saw Coro chase down the ball on the left hand side of the penalty box before putting it on a plate for the onrushing Brandon Fernandes. Brandon’s shot ricocheted off of Nishu Kumar’s legs before nestling into the back of the net.
The Gaurs’ celebration was short-lived, as five minutes later a run from Udanta saw the Indian international put in an inch-perfect cross. That was met by a header from Sunil Chhetri at the back post after he had peeled away from Seriton Fernandes.
Goa had chances to grab the equaliser in the late stages with Manvir Singh’s toe poke in the 5th minute of added time being the closest the home side would come to grab a point. His effort though went wide as FC Goa had to endure their first loss on home turf this season.
The Gaurs, however, remain in first place owing to a better goal difference and will now travel to Kolkata to take on ATK on 28th November, 2018.