PANAJI: FC Goa equalled another Hero ISL record, extending their unbeaten streak to 12 games thanks to a 2-1 win over Bengaluru FC today at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Fatorda, Goa.
The crucial win over Bengaluru – the Gaurs’ first at the eighth time of asking – helped Juan Ferrando’s men reclaim the third position on the table, taking them an inch closer to securing their place in the playoffs.
The result for Bengaluru FC brings the curtains down on their hopes of making it to the last four – the first time they will miss the semis since their entry into the competition in 2017.
Angulo’s 13th strike of the season put the Gaurs ahead early in the game before Redeem Tlang scored his first in FC Goa colours within a few minutes to double their lead.
Bengaluru made it interesting as Suraj Wangjam struck in the first half itself for the Blues. FC Goa, though, kept a tight leash on the proceedings in the second half to secure the all-important win.
Juan Ferrando’s startling line-up saw skipper Edu Bedia come in after serving a one-game suspension while Redeem Tlang took the place of Jorge Ortiz, who missed the game owing to an injury.
FC Goa dealt the first blow in the 20th minute as Igor Angulo came up trumps for the Gaurs. Glan Martins was quick on his feet to steal the ball from Erik Paartalu in an advanced area before playing in Angulo. The Spaniard needed no second invitation to tuck it low and past Gurpreet Singh Sandhu in the Bengaluru goal.
Three minutes later, Goa would go two up as Redeem Tlang marked his return to the starting line-up with his first goal in FC Goa colours. Good work from both the wing-backs brought about a good ball from the right by Seriton Fernandes. The delivery to the back post resulted in chaos in the Bengaluru box before Tlang dispatched the opportunity after a layoff from Romario.
Bengaluru came back with an answer of their own just following the drinks break. Suresh Wangjam sneaked in behind Seriton on the right before producing a brilliant finish, curling the ball into the top corner.
Cleiton Silva came close to secure the full comeback late in the first half. However, his header from a close distance from a free-kick hit the woodwork.
FC Goa came out the brighter of the two teams in the second half and nearly got their third within 10 minutes of the restart. Noguera showed his class once again to find Angulo via a chipped ball. The forward took a good first touch but produced an uncharacteristic attempt at dinking the keeper which eventually fizzled out for a goal kick.
The Gaurs were disciplined in their play for the rest of the second forty-five, giving Dheeraj Singh in the FC Goa goal little to worry about. Only a spirited performance from Gurpreet and last-ditch blocks in fact were needed by the Blues to deny Juan Ferrando’s men a third on the evening as Mohamed Ali, Ishan Pandita and James Donachie all came close.
The win takes Goa’s points tally to 30 points from their 19 games. The Gaurs now stand only a point away from securing their place in the playoffs for a record sixth time in the Hero Super League.
FC Goa will be back in action on February 28 (Sunday) to take on Hyderabad FC in their final league game. That game is slated for a 5 pm kickoff.