FC Goa secured their third consecutive win of the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 season by defeating East Bengal FC by 2-1 at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Saturday, courtesy of quick goals in the second half by Sandesh Jhingan and Victor Rodriguez.
The Gaurs were the more dominant of the two teams and they nearly bagged the opener by Carlos Martinez in the 36th minute of the match. The move was set up by Goa’s creative midfield duo of Raynier Fernandes and Brandon Fernandes. From the halfway mark, Raynier lobbed up a ball that Brandon brought down on the inside channel of the left flank.
He showed quick footwork to beat his marker Mohamad Rakip and created space outside of the 18-yard box. Soon, Brandon curled in an inch-perfect cross for Martinez. The forward bent to nod the ball into the goal, but couldn’t head it on target as the Gaurs missed out on a fantastic opportunity to get an early lead in the contest.
Naorem Mahesh Singh made them pay for that error soon afterward, because of some impeccable game awareness by Nandhakumar Sekar. The winger steered ahead on the right flank but held on to making the decisive pass into the final third. He spotted Mahesh rushing towards the centre of the box and squared up a simple pass for the attacker that he smashed in home to help East Bengal go into the break with the lead.
Goa dealt with a major setback in the second half, losing Brandon Fernandes to injury after Borja Herrera fouled him to stop a counter attack. However, the Gaurs didn’t back off and instead kept searching for the equaliser. Not too late after that, they didn’t just bag their first goal of the evening but also notched the winner, thanks to the crafty Rodriguez.
Boris Singh earned a free kick in the 73rd minute, and Rodriguez sent in a delivery for Sandesh Jhingan inside the box. The towering defender successfully headed the ball past Gill to draw scores level. Goa capitalised on that promising passage of play this time, unlike in the first half. They moved ahead with pace and precision as Martinez went about creating a fantastic goal-scoring chance for Rodriguez. The striker played an accurate pass for Rodriguez, stationed at the centre of the penalty box, who drilled the ball into the bottom right corner.
The Gaurs were in absolute control of the proceedings thereafter, winning the ball back, retaining possession, and mounting pressure on the East Bengal backline. Martinez came close multiple times to striking the third goal for his team at the brink of the full time whistle. Though East Bengal thwarted that, they were unable till the end to at least garner a point from this encounter.
Key Performer of the Match
Victor Rodriguez (FC Goa)
Victor Rodriguez replaced the dynamic Noah Sadaoui for FC Goa, and he made this opportunity count with a goal and an assist. He rounded off the game after creating three goal-scoring opportunities, making four crosses, and completing 81% of his attempted passes.
What’s next for both teams?
FC Goa will next take on Bengaluru FC at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium on October 25, whereas East Bengal’s upcoming confirmed fixture is against Kerala Blasters FC at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata on November 4.
FC Goa 2 (Sandesh Jhingan 74’, Victor Rodriguez 75’) – 1 East Bengal FC (Naorem Mahesh Singh 41’)