MINOO FERNANDES | NT
FC Goa’s Spanish goal machine Coro opened the scoring with a superb header while his compatriot Edurado Bedia and Moroccan teammate Hugo Boumous netted a goal each as the Gaurs blasted Kerala Blasters 3-0 to take the pole position and confirm their play-off berth in the ISL 5, at Nehru Stadium, Fatorda on Monday.
With this win, FC Goa are on 31 points from 16 matches and are level on points with Bengaluru FC who also have 31 points from 16 matches. But they displace Bengaluru FC from top position due to superior goal difference.
Kerala Blasters having collected 14 points from 17 matches stand on second last position.
FC Goa led 2-0 at half time with Coro (21st minute) and Eduardo Bedia (24th minute) striking once each as they gelled well in Spanish flavour and style. The Gaurs got their third goal through substitute Hugo Boumous who ran solo to bulge the nets in the 79th minute after Bedia provided him nice assist on the left flank.
FC Goa could have taken the lead in the very fifth minute of play when Brandon, who was put through from the middle, raced down the flank with Coro following closely on the left, but he chose to go for glory instead of passing the ball to an unmarked Coro, and in the process lost the control and the ball to the rival defence.
Soon thereafter another opportunity came in FC Goa’s way after defender Ahmed Jahouh sent a penetrating pass to Jackichand Singh, who shot it wide. In the next two minutes, Jahouh once again fed Jackichand Singh but this time his blistering shot hit the post and came back into play.
FC Goa continued their play with flourishing moves and pressed hard for the much needed goal, but somehow the defence of Kerala Blasters managed to survive anxious moments.
FC Goa continued playing as a well-knit unit and a goal looked imminent in their favour. Captain Mandar Rao Dessai made some dashing runs down the left flank stretching the defence of Kerala Blasters but their resolute defender Mohamad Rakip prevented Mandar from entering the box.
The resilience of Kerala Blasters however did not last long as Coro put the hosts into the lead in the 21st minute following a nice cross by Brandon on the left flank. Coro neatly headed to the right corner of the rival nets, giving no chance at all to the Kerala keeper Dheeraj Singh. This was Coro’s 14th goal of this ISL season. After opening his and team’s scoring account, Coro looked hungry for more goals but unfortunately his mates at the upfront failed to provide him any assists.
Within the next three minutes, second goal came in favour of FC Goa as another Spaniard Eduardo Bedia unleashed a left footer off a decent pass from Coro from the right flank that completely took the steam out of the Kerala Blasters.
Kerala Blasters, meanwhile, made three attempts but all of them lacked the much needed firepower.
Having scored two goals in the first half, FC Goa then took it easy and slowed down their game to a great deal. The team worked in complete unison with each other and the defence in particular gave nothing away wherein Senegal defender Serigne Moutada Fall gave nothing away and was easily the pick of the lot.
The team however did not exert much pressure in the second session to find the nets and could only score another goal after Hugo Boumous came in. Coro had a good chance to add one more goal to his name but he was tackled in the nick of the time before pulling the trigger and then medio Ahmed Jahouh was seen shooting wide on two clear occasions. Jahouh was then replaced as Hugo Boumous came in his place which helped FC Goa a great deal in penetrating into the rival box. Boumous proved to be a good substitute as he added his name to the score sheet in the 79th minute with a low shot off a solo effort besides making clever moves to hoodwink the rival defence.