FC Goa qualify for the ISL playoffs for a record sixth time after a goalless draw with Hyderabad FC

posted in Match Report by FC Goa Official on 28th February 2021

posted in Match Report

by FC Goa Official

on 28th February 2021

FC Goa qualify for the ISL playoffs for a record sixth time after a goalless draw with Hyderabad FC

FC Goa booked their place in the Hero Indian Super League playoffs for a record sixth time and fourth time in a row thanks to a 0-0 draw against Hyderabad FC. The draw also means that the Gaurs are now 13-games unbeaten, another league record. 

A game that meant all or nothing for both FC Goa and Hyderabad FC was largely a scrappy affair – uncharacteristic for the two sides who are known for playing with flair. The game actually only came to life in the last 15 odd minutes with the Nizams throwing the kitchen sink to get their coveted goal. 

The Gaurs’ backline, though, showed real grit to eke out a point on the night at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Fatorda, Goa.

Juan Ferrando made only one change to the starting line-up as Seriton Fernandes missed out owing to an injury. Adil Khan took his place in the backline with Ivan Gonzalez taking up the right-back spot.

A cagey first half saw very little action near the penalty areas. In fact, combined, the two teams had one attempt on goal and none on target.

The second half saw Redeem Tlang create some ruffles in the Hyderabad backline in the opening minutes. However, the game soon fell back into its pattern characterised by repeated stoppages in play as neither team was able to impose their will on the game. 

The 85-minute mark signalled a change in mood for the Nizams as they poured men forward and took a more direct approach towards getting the goal that they desperately needed for a place in the playoffs. FC Goa, meanwhile, looked to hit them on the break.

It would also signal a coming-to-boil of the affair which had taken a feisty turn. 

The adrenaline, the frenzy and the frequent clashes climaxed in the 86th minute as Lluís Sastre was sent off after the midfielder threw a bottle at fellow Spaniard Alberto Noguera as he was being substituted. Noguera was also deemed to have played a part in the ruckus and was shown his second yellow of the evening, a minute after coming off the field. 

While João Victor and Liston Colaco came close to breaking the deadlock at one end, James Donachie and Devendra Murgaokar produced moments that threatened to be the decisive blow for the Gaurs.

The 91st minute again saw the Gaurs nearly break the Hyderabad hearts as Jorge Ortiz took an attempt on goal from near the halfway line after seeing the goalkeeper off his line. His deflected attempt, after an agonising hang, went about 10 feet away from the target. 

Hyderabad’s biggest opportunity came in the third minute of added-on time when Roland Alberg found space on the right edge of the box. The midfielder’s thundering effort was well saved by Dheeraj Singh before Ivan Gonzalez slid in for a timely tackle to nudge the ball away to safety as Liston Colaco bore down at the far post. 

The last flutter of heart for the FC Goa faithful came in the 96th minute. Dheeraj, in the goal for Goa came up trumps once more after Adil Khan’s ill-directed header threatened to creep into the Goa goal. The keeper was on his toes and did well to palm it over. 

The final whistle soon followed and signalled FC Goa’s qualification to the ISL playoffs for the fourth season running and an end to Hyderabad’s campaign. Juan Ferrando’s first season, thus sees the Gaurs finish fourth on the ISL table with 7 wins 10 draws and 3 losses. 

Goa will now await the result from the final league game of the ISL to know who they play in the semis.