FC Goa extended their unbeaten streak in recent games to 6 whilst booking their place in the semi-finals for the second season running with a 3-0 win over Kerala Blasters. The game also saw the Gaurs record their fifth consecutive clean sheet – equalling Mumbai City FC’s record set in the first season of the league.
For the second game running, the Gaurs went off to a whirlwind of a start with Jackichand Singh again threatening to break open the opposition in the opening few minutes after having scored the opener in the last game after only 53 seconds.
The man from Manipur helped create 3 great chances within the first 12 minutes with his last attempt coming agonisingly off the post.
The persistent pressure finally paid off for Goa in the 22nd minute. Brandon Fernandes found space on the left before delivering a ball with his weaker left foot that had ‘put me in the net’ written all over it. Coro duly obliged as he lost Anas Edathodika before placing his glancing header perfectly beyond the reach of the hapless Dheeraj Singh in the Kerala goal.
Kerala’s misery doubled three minutes later when a howler from Dheeraj let Goa in to score their second. An errant back pass that looked to be heading for a corner was recovered by the keeper but in doing so, the youngster’s touch let in Coro on the unguarded goal.
The Spaniard kept his composure and played in the onrushing Edu Bedia, who slotted it into the bottom right hand corner of the net.
Naveen Kumar’s only real action in the first half saw the custodian go down low to collect a fierce low cross from Courage Pekuson after he had managed to get beyond the Goa backline on the left and tried to pull it back into the danger zone in the 37th minute.
Both teams created a couple of threatening situation before the close of first half, but a lack of precision in the final third mean the teams went into the dressing with the home team enjoying a 2-0 lead.
The Gaurs started off the second half on the front foot with Mandar Rao Dessai helping the Gaurs earning a corner within three minutes of the restart.
The Blasters did make Naveen and the Goa backline work in the following few minutes but to no avail while Goa looked threatening on the break.
The 55th minute of the game saw Goa have a glorious chance to make it 3-0 when Jahouh yet again played a sumptuous ball over the top for Coro. The leading ISL scorer latched on to it and racing ahead before dancing past Rakip and then rounding the keeper. But his shot on goal was met by a last ditch lunge by Matej Poplatnik – keeping the visitors in the game.
Kerala’s biggest chance came in the 70th minute when they worked out a brilliant opportunity as Poplatnik dropped deep before playing in Prasanth Karuthadathkuni. The winger, however, couldn’t get his shot off as Mourtada Fall was on the scene to see the threat out.
The home side would put the icing on the cake 8 minutes when a trademark swirling run emanating from the left by Hugo Boumous saw him hop and skip past three defenders before pulling the ball across goal to beat Dheeraj at the near post to put the game beyond doubt.
Goa had a few more chances at the end to make the score line even more humiliating. Whilst the Edu’s chip had the Blasters beaten in the 88th minute, the crossbar came in the way to keep the score at 3-0. And that is how the game finished.
The win saw Goa move to the top of the table, level on points with Bengaluru FC but ahead on goal difference. It also extended Goa’s defensive record to 478 minutes without having conceded a goal Goa next plays Bengaluru FC on February 21 in a game that could potentially decide who ends up in top spot heading into the playoffs.