FC Goa succumbed to their first defeat in the ISL since the restart courtesy of a 3-0 loss to Bengaluru FC here at the Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru. The Blues went down to 10 men but showed real character to overcome the Gaurs’ challenge – taking them back to the top of the table.
Goa, meanwhile, was left reflecting back on their missed chances as they hit the post and the crossbar once each whilst missing a chance six yards from goal.
The visitors got off the blocks like lightning as Ahmed Jahouh nearly gave them the lead 5 minutes into the game. The Moroccan did well to win the ball in a dangerous position. On looking up, he saw time and space to unleash a shot from about 35-yards away from goal and he duly obliged with a ravishing shot that had Gurpreet Singh Sandhu beat in the Bengaluru goal. The post came to the rescue of Bengaluru as the ball thudded off it.
Goa enjoyed the lion’s share of the possession in the first forty-five but the home side did make in-roads as the game went on. Xisco’s attempt in the 15th minute was followed by a delectable chip from the Spaniard to find Miku. The Venezuelan, however, failed to make contact.
Six minutes later, another mix up in the Goa box nearly ended in Rino Anto scoring the opener but it was not to be as he failed to get his bearings right.
FC Goa would work themselves into the game in the minutes to come as Edu Bedia and Brandon Fernandes tested Sandhu from direct free kicks from either side of the field in the 26th and 32nd minutes of the game respectively.
Brandon would again get a chance to test the keeper two minutes later but his shot on the stretch was feeble and easily gathered by the keeper.
The game took a real turn in the 42nd minute when Nishu Kumar was sent off for a second yellow for an aerial challenge on Jackichand Singh. The home side remained determined and nearly got the opener in the 1st added minute at the end of the first half. Harmanjot Singh Khabra did brilliantly to flick on Luisma’s free kick but Naveen Kumar came up with a even more spectacular save in the Goa goal to keep the game scoreless heading into halftime.
The Blues, a man down, came out determined in the second half. And their determination finally paid off in the 50th minute when Xisco’s ball following a free-kick found its way through the Goa defence and into the laps of Juanan. The Spaniard did well with his first touch before thrashing it into the top corner on the volley.
Bengaluru nearly doubled their lead five minutes later when Mourtada Fall’s errant header let Miku in. His shot though was straight at Naveen who palmed it away before Carlos Pena swept it to safety. The home’s side second would come in the 58th minute when Dimas Delgado played in Udanta Singh beyond the Goa defence. The fleet-footed winger kept his composure as he was bearing down on goal before slotting it past Naveen Kumar.
The visitors showed some form of fight back in the minutes to come.
Goa had a golden opportunity to cut the lead in half in the 67th minute. Coro latched on to a misdirected shot by Edu and looked to get Goa’s opener. In his attempt to run through the maze of Bengaluru defenders, the ball got a bit away from him but thankfully straight into the strides of Brandon. The winger’s first time shot beat Sandhu again but this time crashed off the crossbar.
The visitors would be rueing that opportunity a couple of minutes later as Miku made the score line 3-0. The Venezuelan turned his defender before unleashing a shot from 35 odd yards out that nestled into the top right hand corner of the net, beyond the reach of Naveen.
The 74th minute would really sum up Goa’s fortunes in front of goal on the night. Coro did brilliantly to round Sandhu and then kept his composure to find Hugo Boumous six yards from goal. With the goal begging to be found, the Frenchman blasted it over.
Goa made substitutions to mount a fight back in the dying minutes but that was not to be. The loss, however, remains inconsequential in terms of the long term with qualification for the playoffs already sealed for both sides. The Gaurs are next in action on February 28th as they entertain Chennaiyin FC in their last game of the league stage.