Margao, 22 nd October, 2015: FC Goa move to summit of the ISL standings, after a 2-1 win over Kerala Blasters at Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru Stadium in Fatorda on Thursday.
Leo Moura (45+1′) and Gregory Arnolin (83′) scored at the either end of the field to ensure full points for FC Goa, after Kerala Blasters taken the lead courtesy Mohammad Rafi (24′).
Goa coach Zico made four changes into the team, that he fielded against NorthEast United last week Nicolau Colaco and Narayan Das replaced Keenan Almeida and Debabrata Roy respectively on both flanks. While Joffre Mateu made way for Pranoy Halder in midfield and Darryl Duffy filled in for C S Sabeeth.
Whereas, Kerala coach Peter Reid re-introduced Mehtab Hossain, Bruno Perone, Joao Coimbra, Sanchez Watt and Mohammad Rafi into the playing XI, after missing the last match against Delhi on Sunday.
For most parts of the game Kerala Blasters held the upper hand with better all-round footballing skills, but the luckless visitors finished at the losing end in a tie where they deserved nothing but three points.
Kerala started off brightly and immediately got to the task, testing the Goa defence early and often, the Goa also had their own share of attacks. But it was the visitors, who broke the dead-lock first through Mohammad Rafi, who converted from a delightful right sided cross of Rahul Bheke in the 24th minute.
Kerala looked good for a second when Marcus Williams made a brilliant run inside the box, but Nicolau Colaco cleared the ball before he could take a shot on goal from close range.
Afterwards, the visitors had back to back chances with Cavin Lobo, but the East Bengal midfielder saw his shots from free-kick saved by the Goa keeper Laxmikant Kattimani in both occasions.
Meanwhile, against run of play, Goa added the equaliser through Leo Moura at the stopage time, which the visitors weren’t expected to come anytime sooner. The former Brazil international found a ball inside, when a corner took deflection off Kerala custodian Stephen Bywater and the Goa number 10 slotted from the rebound.
Thereafter, referee blew the half-time whistle with scores tied 1-1, which brought much relief for the Goa camp and allowed some time to drop the continues pressure on their goal.
Like the first-half Kerala Blasters started the second as brighter of two. Despite dominating eraly exchanges the visitors failed to regain their lead due to some lacklustre finishing from the forwards upfront. After missing few half chances through Sanchez Watt and Rafi, The away side saw their first shot on target in the half, when Marcus Williams launched one from close range, after recieving through ball from Sandesh but an alert Goa keeper Laxmikant Kattimani saved the day for his side in the 65th minute. Bruno Perone tried to convert from the rebound but it harmlessly went for a corner.
Meanwhile, Goa also came close to the Kerala goal in few occasions before finding the winner through Gregory Arnolin, who headed the ball home from a Mandar Rao Dessai corner at the right side of the net in the 83rd minute. Kerala Blasters, were extremly unlucky to concede both from set-pieces.
In the remainder of the half, Laxmikant Kattimani pulled some decent saves to keep the visitors away from a equaliser and earn full points for his side.
Leo Moura who was instrumental for FC Goa in this crucial win and rightfuly named man of the match as reward of his efforts.
The result marked the third successive defeat for Kerala Blasters in the competition.
FC Goa will travel Mumbai to face Mumbai City FC in their next match, while Kerala Blasters would entertain FC Pune City, day after in a away fixture.
FC Goa XI: Laxmikant Kattimani (GK), Nicolau Colaco (Raju Gaikwad – 79′), Gregory Arnolin (C), Luciano Sabrosa, Narayan Das, Pranoy Halder, Jonatan Lucca, Bikramjit Singh (Romeo Fernandes – 61′), Leo Moura, Reinaldo, Darryl Duffy (Mandar Rao Dessai – 61′)
Kerala Blasters XI: Stephen Bywater (GK), Marcus Williams, Bruno Perone, Peter Ramage (C), Sandesh Jhingan, Rahul Bheke, Mehtab Hossain, Cavin Lobo (Sankar Sampingiraj – 55′), João Coimbra (Josue Currais – 63′), Mohammad Rafi (C K Vineeth – 75′), Sanchez Watt
Photo Credits: ISL