FC Goa secured their first win after going winless in their previous five games as they edged past East Bengal FC by 1-0 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 on Wednesday.

The Gaurs have thus moved to 32 points with this win, within touching distance of the top-placed Odisha FC (35), having played a game fewer (17) than the Juggernauts (18. Contrastingly, the Red & Gold Brigade are three points behind (18) the sixth-placed Bengaluru FC (21), with both sides having playing an equal number of games (18).

Talismanic striker Noah Sadaoui picked up form just at the right time to help his team win for the first time since the resumption of the league after the mid-season break. The Manolo Marquez-coached side cracked through the East Bengal FC defence in some style, and they were arguably more dominant in the proceedings than what the scoreline suggests. Beating the visitors in possession (57.2%), and as well as in terms of shots (17 vs 4) and shots on target (7 vs 1), the home team constantly teased the opposition with their skilful frontline.

Noah broke the deadlock in the 42nd minute, but he and Carlos Martinez created plenty of chances before that, which played a part in keeping the East Bengal FC goalkeeper Prabsukhan Singh Gill on his toes. The Gaurs were spot on in their tactics from the offset tonight, ensuring that they carved open the East Bengal FC defence with their through balls. Martinez did so in the 14th minute, but Noah’s shot in a 1v1 situation against Gill was saved off the leg by the custodian.

Similarly, Noah returned the favour by teaming up with Martinez, but the Spaniard took a wayward shot far off the target. The pressure was on for East Bengal FC though, and their backline arguably lost the plot by pushing too far ahead, too soon. Mohammed Yasir helped Noah secure the winner.

The attacking midfielder has been in promising form, as displayed by his consecutive strikes in last two matches. Tonight, he found a way past the East Bengal FC backline that struggled for coordination, setting the assist for Noah, who hammered the ball into the net from a narrow position on the inside channel of the left flank.

The gifted East Bengal FC frontline found no answers against a disciplined FC Goa defence in either halves, further complicating their chances of qualifying to the playoffs this season.

Key Performer of the Match

Noah Sadaoui (FC Goa)

Noah Sadaoui completed 32 out of his 34 attempted passes, tackling twice, intercepting once, creating two goal-scoring opportunities, earning three fouls and netting the all-important winner.

What’s next for both teams?

FC Goa will play their next game when they face Punjab FC on March 11, whereas East Bengal FC returns to action for the Kolkata Derby on March 10.

Brief Scores

FC Goa 1 (Noah Sadaoui 42’) - 0 East Bengal FC.

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