ISL 5: Goa put Mumbai to the sword in the first leg of their semi-final

MUMBAI: Despite going a goal behind on the 20th minute, FC Goa stormed to a 5-1 victory over Mumbai City FC in the first leg of their semi-final clash at the Mumbai Football Arena on Saturday. The result means the Gaurs take a four-goal advantage into the second leg in Goa and leaves the Islanders with a mountain to climb.

The Islanders started the match with intent and denied Goa players any time on the ball, pressing them relentlessly and trying to force mistakes. Ahmed Jahouh, in particular, was singled out as multiple Mumbai players descended on the Moroccan whenever he got on possession. Mumbai also did look the more threatening of the two sides while going forward in the early stages and were creating some dangerous chances.

On the 20th minute, the Islanders finally reaped the fruits of their bright start and went on to take the lead through Rafael Bastos. Arnold Issoko went on one of his trademark runs down the right flank, checked back, and floated in a teasing cross with the outside of his boot at the far post. Bastos made sure he ghosted in past the Goa defence undetected and tapped it in past Naveen Kumar.

The goal triggered a response from the Gaurs who began showing a little more urgency. In face of Goa’s wave after wave of attacks, Mumbai’s resistance lasted for just 11 minutes. Ferran Corominas hit a low shot towards goal, forcing a quick block from Amrinder Singh. But the Mumbai custodian’s save was a tad indecisive, giving Jackichand Singh the opportunity to score the equaliser from the follow up. Interestingly, it was FC Goa’s 150th goal in the Hero ISL. No other team has scored more, with Chennaiyin FC being the second-highest scorer with 126.

The 151st would soon follow. The Mumbai defence made the grave error of letting Brandon Fernandes’ corner bounce inside the box and Mourtada Fall was at hand to capitalize. The defender buried his diving header into the net to give Goa the advantage.

The Islanders came close to finding an equaliser of their own minutes before the half-time whistle. The ball fell kindly for Modou Sougou near the six-yard box after a Paulo Machado free-kick and the striker took a stab at it. With the shot seemingly destined for the goal, Naveen instinctively stuck out a leg to deny Sougou.

Seconds later, both Naveen and Sougou were involved in another big moment of the match. The Senegalese striker took advantage of Naveen’s inability to cleanly collect Bastos’ shot and seemed to have scored the leveller in the dying seconds of the first half. The celebrations at the Mumbai Football Arena were, however, cut short as the linesman signalled for offside.

The first 45 minutes ended with the away side 2-1 up.

Shortly after the restart, things got worse for the home team. Jackichand found himself in possession down the right and hung up a teasing cross at the far post. Corominas was the quickest to react and met the cross with a diving header to make it 3-1 in Goa’s favour. It was the Spaniard’s 16th goal of the season.

The Gaurs were relentless in their quest to increase their lead even further and made it 4-1 just seven minutes later. Fall bulldozed through the Islanders defence to meet a corner and directed his header past Amrinder to score his second of the night.

Mumbai players tried their best to reduce the deficit and had a golden opportunity on the 74th minute. Lucian Goian found himself unmarked from a corner but miraculously failed to keep his header on target.

Substitute Hugo Boumous set up Brandon for Goa’s fifth with a lovely threaded through ball on the 82nd minute. The youngster found himself one-vs-one against the goalkeeper and beat Amrinder at his near post with a meticulously placed shot.

The Islanders created a couple of opportunities to pull a goal back before the full time whistle, but some good goalkeeping by Naveen made sure the scoreline was unchanged.

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