Gaurs overcome Highlanders; regain top spot

Fatorda: Attacking medio Jackichand Singh’s 57th minute strike and Coro’s 80th minute penalty goal were enough for FC Goa to register a well deserved 2-0 win against NorthEast United FC in the Indian Super League match played at Nehru Stadium, Fatorda-Margao on Wednesday.

The win enabled FC Goa regain top position in the league as they now have 24 points from 12 matches, three points ahead of second-placed ATK. NorthEast United FC stay on eighth position with 11 points from 10 matches.

NorthEast United FC had the first look at the FC Goa goal as early as the 4th minute when their captain Uruguayan Martin Garcia sent a none-too-powerful shot from the right flank which FC Goa keeper grabbed with ease. In the next minute, the visitors forced a flag kick which however proved abortive.

Sounding an early alarm, the Highlanders looked promising but FC Goa came up with some counter forays with attacking medio Jackichand Singh beating the rival defence by his hot pace, but somehow lacked finishing touches.

FC Goa tried to thrive on some good passing and positional play, and in the 12th minute almost found the mark when Hugo Boumous sent a defence-splitting pass to Jackichand Singh who darted into the box. But before he could get his act together, NorthEast United keeper Pawan Kumar charged forward to intercept and a defender then cleared the ball to safety.

In one of the best moves that FC Goa initiated, their scoring machine Coro unleashed a bicycle kick off a cross from Jackichand Singh in the 18th minute, but the shot went wide off the mark.

On quite a few occasions Coro tried to outsmart the rival defence with his skills, but he was marked tightly by the rival defenders and as such couldn’t inflict any damage on the rivals. He did send a couple of good shots but on both the counts the ball hit the rival defenders.

Carlos Penha, who overlapped brilliantly in the 30th minute, dispatched a volley on the run after Brandon Fernandes sent a long ball to him, but his shot went slightly wider off the target, losing a golden chance to put FC Goa into the lead.

Five minutes before the breather, FC Goa captain Mandar Rao Dessai dispatched a lofted ball across the face of the rival goal but Coro and Jackichand Singh were little late to dart in. Mandar again sent a cross in the very next minute which was intercepted by the rival defence before any FC Goa forward could move in.

A minute before the break, FC Goa looked to have scored when Hugo Boumous sent a brilliant pass to Coro who surprisingly could not find the mark, as he ended up giving the ball away to the rival defenders.

FC Goa had a glorious opportunity to bulge the nets right at the start of the second session when Jahouh worked his way on the right flank and then passed the ball to Seriton, whose through pass was connected by Brandon. The rival keeper however managed to parry the ball as it then fell at the feet of Coro who much to the chagrin of his teammates and supporters hit the ball against a defender.

FC Goa had the ball possession for a longer spell and looked enterprising but somehow faltered to convert. Neither Brandon nor Jackichand or for that matter Coro looked impressive when had the ball possession and surprisingly erred in their shooting abilities, most of the time hitting the ball against the rival defenders with some agonising misses.

FC Goa certainly displayed poor shooting abilities in this encounter and failed to win the hearts of their fans. However, they finally made amends to their follies and found the mark in the 57th minute when Boumous sent a pass to Jackichand Singh on the right whose weak shot was attempted to be cleared by Croatian rival defender Mislav Komorwski, but he failed and the ball entered the nets after a deflection, deceiving a diving keeper Pawan Kumar.

Coro made the score 2-0 in FC Goa’s favour in the 80th minute through a penalty kick after he was brought down inside the box by rival Colombian defender Jose David. Referee Crystal John had no hesitation in pointing to the dreaded spot from where Coro banged in to bulge the nets. [NT]