PANAJI: FC Goa got a much-needed victory, overcoming Odisha FC 3-1 tonight at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Fatorda, Goa. The three points on the night helped the Gaurs climb back into the top four while extending their unbeaten run to eleven games.
Juan Ferrando made two changes to the starting XI as James Donachie and Princeton Rebello came in for Adil Khan and Edu Bedia respectively – the FC Goa skipper missing action due to a suspension.
FC Goa started off bright and nearly had the lead as early as the 4th minute as Jorge Ortiz danced along the left flank to beat his man before cutting it back for Noguera in the box. A good shot meant that the ball seemed destined for the back of the net until a brilliant reflex save from Arshdeep Singh in the Odisha goal denied the Spaniard his first-ever goal in the Hero Indian Super League.
There was no denying the Spaniard in the 17th minute though as he rounded off a goal made in Spain. Gonzalez, who had popped up on the left, put in a ball that had ‘head me into the goal’ written all over it and the Noguera obliged from close distance.
The Gaurs kept the pressure up and doubled their lead in the 26th minute. A brilliant break from their own box saw Saviour Gama play Ortiz in on goal. The Spaniard showed his pace to run away from the chasing pack before executing a cute finish – lobbing the onrushing Arshdeep for his sixth of the season.
Against the run of play, Odisha pulled one back at the 30-minute mark as Diego Maurício found the back of the net via a header from close range to make the game interesting again.
And that’s how the game remained heading into halftime.
The Gaurs kept the momentum going into the second half and nearly got their reward in the 71st minute. Angulo was again played in by Noguera with a delightfully weighted ball. The Spaniard did well to put Steven Taylor on the floor. The former Newcastle man, though, was able to affect a deflection and deny Angulo his 13th of the season.
The goal finally came four minutes later as Gonzalez struck his second of the season. The centre back rose highest to head in from close range off of an Ortiz corner. Arshdeep did well to save from point-blank range but a melee inside the penalty box saw the Spaniard bundle the ball into the back of the net on his third try.
That sealed the deal for the Gaurs as they won their first game in seven games and their fourth in the last eleven with the remaining seven being draws.
The Gaurs will next be in action on February 21 when they take on Bengaluru FC at Fatorda. That game is slated for a 5 pm kickoff.