FC Goa’s early runnings in the Indian Super League took a bit of a stumble tonight in Kochi as they went down 1-3 to Kerala Blasters. The Gaurs, who went into the game having won three out of their four opening games couldn’t continue their fine run as two late first-half goals took the wind out of them before a third at the beginning of the second made this a task too tall for Carlos Pena’s boys to overcome.
Pena rang in two changes for the game. While former Kerala Blasters man Alvaro Vazquez got in for Redeem Tlang, Saviour Gama was given his first start of the season, checking in for Fares Arnaout.
The match got off to a frantic start with both sides’ goalkeepers tested within the first 10 minutes. As Iker Guarrotxena and Alvaro Vazquez gave Prabshugan Gill gave moments to show off his prowess in between the sticks, Dheeraj Singh in the Goa goal continued his rich vein of form to thwart Sahal Abdul Samad’s effort from close range.
The Gaurs continued to create chances throughout the first half as they looked in charge of the proceedings. That was till the 42nd minute, when the game turned on its head.
A few seconds after Noah Sadaoui had failed to capitalise on a ravishing through ball from Guarrotxena, Blaster hits Goa against the run of play. Adrian Luna had the easiest task of diverting the ball into the net from five yards out after Sahal did well to control the ball in the box before turning his defender and playing it into the danger area.
A few minutes later, Kerala hit again, this time from the penalty spot after Anwar Ali was adjudged to have fouled Dimitrios Diamantakos with a last-ditch tackle. The Greek forward got up and put the opportunity away himself to give Kerala a two-goal lead into halftime.
Kerala kept the pressure up from the restart and built on their late surge in the first half. Ivan Kaliuzhnyi stretched the home side’s lead to 3 goals with a powerful thump from 30-odd yards out that left Dheeraj without a prayer.
Carlos Pena’s boys though showed resilience and didn’t throw in the towel even with a three-goal difference. A few minutes after Guarrotxena had forced Gill into another brilliant low save from a one-on-one situation Goa finally got their coveted goal.
A brilliant delivery from Seriton Fernandes in his 100th appearance for the Club in the ISL was finished off in the box with a thumping header by Noah Sadaoui for his third goal of the season as the clock ran into the 67th minute.
The two sides continued to hammer and tongs at each other for the rest of the 90 minutes, but only for some poor touches in the box and some superb goalkeeping to deny either side another goal.
The result sees FC Goa remain in fourth place on the table courtesy of 9 points from their 5 games. Kerala jump up to 5th on the table, tied on points with the Gaurs but having played a game more and with an inferior goal difference.
The Gaurs will be back in action this coming Sunday when they take on ATK Mohun Bagan in a match that will see their former head coach Juan Ferrando bring his troops to Goan shores for the first time since parting with the Club.