Chennai: It had taken two matches and 192 minutes in total for the fourth edition of the Indian Super League to witness a goal and they came in numbers when they came, as FC Goa defeated Chennaiyin FC 3-2 in a thriller, that saw as many as five goals being scored in a space of 97 minutes.
Ferran Corominas is one name India will remember for a long time as he scored the first goal of the fourth edition. Manuel Lanzarote and Mandar Rao Desai were the other scorers for FC Goa. Calderon and Raphael Augusto scored the two goals for the home team.
Playing at the ‘Marina Arena’, the home team looked confident in the initial stages, with the likes of young Jerry and Bodo dancing around with the experienced guys. But it was the visiting side that gradually took the pole position as the match progressed. It was only a second-half inspiring performance from Chennaiyin that brought them closer to earning a draw, in what was an otherwise dull performance from the former champions.
The 2015 runners-up FC Goa, took some time to settle in but changed modes devastatingly soon, scoring three in the space of 12 minutes. It was always going to be risky for Chennaiyin with three at the back and Goa exploited just that.
A counter attack from Goa in the 26th minute saw Ferran Corominas score the opening goal in this season’s ISL. It was 2-0 three minutes later, from another Goan counter-attack. Coro’s shot from a tight angle was saved by Karanjit, with Brandon shooting at him from the rebound. The ball however fell to Spaniard Manuel Lanzarote and the exprienced former Barcelona B player made no mistake in chipping it over, into the empty net.
Not learning from the mistake, Chennai almost conceded a third, five minutes later but Karanjit was well upto the task this time around to save another Coro shot. He however had no chance in the 38th minute after a swift counter-attack from almost a Chennaiyin goal followed and finding Mandar Rao with enough space unmarked, Lanzarote passed it out to him, who made no mistake to make it 3-0, all within the first 40 minutes.
Playing in front of a crowd that cheered the home team everytime they moved forward with the ball, Chennaiyin disappointed and looked lost in the first-half, destroyed by the confident Goan forwards.
‘Marina Machans’ however looked a completely different side in the latter-half. Two bold decisions by coach John Gregory, involving Bikramjit Singh and forward Gregory Nelson looked to have changed the tides and Chennaiyin almost equalised within the next three minutes.
Indian national Jeje hit the upright at the very first minute, before Nelson was presented with a glorious chance to open the scoring, but with an open goal in front and with goalie Kattimani beaten all he managed to do was hit the bar. Jeje had another chance minutes later but shot straight at goalkeeper.
Things looked to have settled for the ‘Gaurs’ as the match progressed but a ridiculous blunder from Goan custodian Laxmikant Kattimani in the 70th minute from a Calderon free-kick brought the home team back into the match.
The stadium uproared in delight when Raphael Augusto made it 2-3, courtesy a penalty in the 84th minute after Jeje was brought down in the opposition D. The goal seemed to have revitalised the Chennaiyin energy as players moved up in numbers in search for the final equaliser, but hitting the bar is a bad omen in football and Chennaiyin who had it is thrice, had to stop as the final whistle blew, losing their first home match 2-3.
They will however rue their missed chances as both Raphael, Nelson and Jeje could have scored but Kattimani, back to confidence after that hilarious mistake stood up each time a shot was made.