A well-struck goal by Noah Sadaoui in the first half made all the difference for FC Goa, as they registered a narrow 1-0 win over East Bengal FC at the PJN Stadium in Fatorda on Wednesday.

With 32 points from 17 matches, they are just three points behind league leaders Odisha FC and Mumbai City FC in second place, thereby keeping hopes alive for the.ISL League Shield.

Earlier in the day, FC Goa head coach Manolo Marquez made just a single change to his starting XI from last week’s draw against Mumbai City FC, as Borja Herrera returned in midfield in place of Paulo Retre. Carlos Martinez and Noah Sadaoui led the attack, while Dheeraj Singh continued in goal on the back of a decent shift against the Islanders.

East Bengal kick-started the proceedings in the first half and kept possession of the ball for the first few minutes, but the hosts maintained composure and regained control soon enough.

The Gaurs should have taken the lead as early as the 12th minute itself, when Carlos played a brilliant ball forward from the halfway line for Noah. The Moroccan evaded the last defender with a nifty bit of skill and advanced all the way into the opposition box, before taking a shot that goalkeeper Prabhsukhan Singh Gill miraculously saved with an outstretched leg.

Unfazed by this slight misfortune, FC Goa continued to create chances at will. By the 30th minute-mark, Carlos, Mohammad Yasir and Rowllin Borges had all managed to get a shot each on target, but Gill’s saves denied the Gaurs a much-deserved breakthrough.

The tempo shifted slightly though, after the drinks’ break. The Red and Gold brigade came close to scoring on a couple of occasions, before Goa notched their opening goal in the 42nd minute. Yasir on the left flank showed great presence of mind to play a quick pass to Noah, who then pulled the trigger from close range to put his team in the driving seat.

Following the change of ends, Manolo Marquez introduced Brandon Fernandes and Carl McHugh to add to the hosts’ attacking threat. And as expected, the chances kept on coming for the Men in Orange. They had the perfect opportunity to double their advantage in the 83rd minute.

Udanta Singh came off the bench and rose high to meet Brandon’s cross, but his headed attempt struck the post and went back into play, much to his dismay. The clash eventually ended with FC Goa taking home all three points. They will now
regroup next Monday, when they travel to Delhi to take on Punjab FC in their next assignment in the ISL.


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