Chennaiyin FC beat FC Goa to become ISL's first away winners
In a day of firsts, fans at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Goa were treated to a pulsating Hero Indian Super League encounter. Balwant Singh became the first Indian goalscorer, with teammate Elano joining him on the score sheet as the first marquee player to notch a goal – also the first successful direct free kick – as Chennaiyin FC racked up the first away win with a 2-1 victory over FC Goa.
Goa made a lively start to the game in front of a raucous home crowd. Edgar Marcelino was at the heart of Goa’s attacks, with the Portuguese showcasing some incisive passing. Marquee player Robert Pirès was also involved, showing few signs of rust.
The Chennaiyin defence soaked up the pressure well, however, and they went ahead at the half-hour mark. Marquee player Elano latched onto a poor clearance and made his way into the box, and striker Balwant Singh was on hand to fire the ball home and etch his name in the history books with a 32nd minute strike.
They soon doubled their lead, with Elano scoring a highlight-worthy goal. A foul on the edge of the box ten minutes later gave him the chance to whip in a trademark free kick, and he duly obliged, scoring a beautiful, curling strike to give his side a 2-0 lead to take into half-time.
Manager Zico’s words would have been ringing in the Goa players’ ears as they came out for the second half with renewed purpose. As in the first half, however, the Chennai defence withstood Goa’s initial attacks. Goa eventually clawed their way back in the game, and it was two defenders who combined to get Goa on the score sheet. Youness Bengelloun’s knockdown from an over-hit cross was a perfect cut-back for fellow central defender Grégory Arnolin to tap in from close range.
Goa pushed on in search of an equalizer, with local hero Clifford Miranda, on as a substitute, nearly scoring a stunning goal straight from a corner kick, before Chennaiyin keeper Emiliano Bracigliano pulled off a fantastic save to deny Ranti Martins. For all Goa’s effort, however, the resolute Chennai defence made sure their ISL campaign began with a win.