Robin’s goal helps Delhi register maiden win over Goa in first leg
Delhi Dynamos FC beat FC Goa 1-0 in their first-leg semi-final clash of the 2015 Hero Indian Super League in front of a 23,874-strong crowd at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi on Friday. A solitary goal from Robin Singh towards the end of the first half was enough for the Lions. The Dynamos now head to Goa with an advantage for the return leg on December 15 in what promises to be a fascinating encounter between the two sides.
The home side had the first shot of the match when Delhi launched a rapid counter-attack from a Goa free-kick that culminated in Florent Malouda firing a shot over FC Goa’s crossbar in the 5th minute.
Goa could have taken the lead seven minutes later when Leo Moura played a beautiful ball out wide for Joffre to run with. The Spaniard delivered a perfectly weighed cross from the left for CS Sabeeth who failed to keep his header on target.
Both sides settled into the game after a frantic opening as Delhi started dominating possession in midfield, making it hard for the Gaurs to get on the ball and string together any threatening attacks.
The home side should have taken the lead four minutes before half-time when Adil Nabi dribbled past his marker and cut back the ball for Gustavo dos Santos to narrowly miss the target from inside the six-yard box.
The Lions though took the lead from their next attack when their skipper Chicao delivered a pin-point cross from the right for Robin to outjump Lucio and head into goal as he put Delhi 1-0 up going into the break.Both teams began the second period with a higher tempo and they could have scored inside the first five minutes. Sabeeth nearly equalised for Goa from a Joffre free-kick before Nabi missed a golden opportunity to extend Delhi’s lead by failing to keep his effort on target after dos Santos played him through on goal.
The hosts’ frustration grew further 10 minutes later when Shylo Malsawmtluanga missed the target after Malouda played him clear on goal with just the keeper to beat. Zico responded by bringing on Rafael Coelho to replace Reinaldo as the Gaurs went in search of a leveller.
Shylo was in the thick of things soon after when he returned the favour to Malouda by playing him in on goal. The experienced Frenchman, however, rippled the side-netting with his left-foot, much to the dismay of marquee player-cum-coach Roberto Carlos and the Delhi crowd.
The Gaurs almost made Delhi pay for their wastefulness instantly when Romeo Fernandes cut back a ball for Moura inside the box as the 37-year-old tested Delhi’s keeper Antonio Doblas who saved the effort at his near post. The visitors amped up the pressure in the last 10 minutes of the game as Delhi fell deeper and deeper into their own half. Dos Santos came closest amongst the Delhi players in the closing stages of the game when he ran through the FC Goa side from midfield with a spectacular solo run. Only a stunning left-handed save from Goa’s keeper Kattimani kept Zico’s men in the game.
FC Goa had a big chance to equalize in the 87th minute when substitute Coelho centred a ball into the box for Moura who sent his shot blazing over the bar. This was the last big opportunity of the game as the Lions go into the second leg with a one-goal advantage over the Gaurs.
Club Award – Delhi Dynamos
Swift Moment of the Match – Robin Singh [Delhi Dynamos] (Watch here)
Amul Fittest Player of the Match – Gregory Arnolin [FC Goa]
HP Transformer of the Match – Chicao [Delhi Dynamos]
ISL Emerging Player of the Match – Sehnaj Singh [Delhi Dynamos]
Hero of the Match – Gustavo dos Santos [Delhi Dynamos]