Image Courtesy: Indian Super League Media Team
A Goan side leading the table of a football league in India a something that we are all used to seeing, has finally happened in the Indian Super League (ISL), as FC Goa fought hard to defeat Kerala Blasters FC 2-1, in the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, in Fatorda, Goa, on Thursday.
FC Goa were struggling to stay in the top-four positions of the ISL table, with seven points, and Kerala Blasters were threatening to overtake them on the table by defeating them.
The latter almost did that, when Mohammed Rafi headed a cross from the right flank, into the bottom corner of the net, half-way into the first half. Kerala Blasters FC looked in complete control of the match, as it approached half time.
However, FC Goa earned a corner right at the end of the first half, and even though the Kerala Blasters FC defenders managed to head the ball out, it fell at the foot of Leonardo Moura, who calmly stroked it on the half-volley into the far corner of the goal, to change Blasters manager Peter Taylora s half time team talk.
Kerala Blasters FC seemed to have found their momentum in this match, as they mounted on one attack after the other, but FC Goa just did enough to thwart their visitors.
The Goans were not too precise with their own possession, and attacks, but they utilised their opportunity extremely well, when captain Gregory Arnolin expertly headed a Mandar Desai corner into the ground, and past a hapless Stephen Bywater.
Kerala mounted on more attacks after conceding the goal, but and their best opportunity of the night fell to defender Sandesh Jhingan, who sneaked in at the far post,but the 22-year-old headed the ball wide, as the entire Goa heaved a sigh of relief.
Match winner and FC Goa captain Gregory said in the post-match interview, a Very happy to score the goal. We play well against a good team. Ia m very happy for my team because we work hard, and have to keep working and think about the next match.a
About scoring a rare goal, the Frenchman said, a My job is different. (Ita s great) if I can help my team to score goals, but my job is to defend. It was important to win today.a
For Kerala however, it was their fifth consecutive away defeat in a row, and manager Peter Taylor would not be all too happy about this one as they were the better sides, in the match.
a Well I think both the goals were from corners, and it was disappointing to concede them. We have talked about this, and wea ll talk about them again,a said the Kerala Blasters FC boss.
Taylor was also not too happy at the marking of his players, in the set-pieces, and was all too eager to criticise that, in the post-match interview. He said, a We do put the people in the right areas, but they switch-off from time time to time (which cost us the goals).a
Although this win takes FC Goa to the top of the ISL table, they could find themselves in the second position again, if Atletico de Kolkata can notch-up a win against a resurgent North East United FC, in Guwahati, on Friday.
For now though, Zico and his men can pop the champagne, as they have managed to get a win from a match, in which they were clearly the second best team.