FC Goa edged past Jamshedpur FC by 1-0 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Monday to bag their fifth victory of the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 season.

Quite often in football, players do not find themselves in the initial scheme of things for their respective teams. However, they manage to make a mark through unexpected openings, and then cement their spot with impressive performances.

Spanish midfielder Victor Rodriguez is scripting a similar story with FC Goa this season. The 34-year-old came into the starting XI as a late replacement for Noah Sadaoui in their fixture against East Bengal FC on October 21. He scored and assisted once each in a 2-1 win, but he made way for Sadaoui once the talisman was fit later on.

Even in this game, Rodriguez did not find his name in the first XI, but he made the decisive contribution after coming off the bench in the 61st minute for striker Carlos Martinez. He occupied the advanced positions left vacant by Martinez, and converted an opportunity that came his way in the 84th minute through a near finish past Vishal Yadav.

What followed was an exciting passage of play, with Jamshedpur FC nearly finding the equaliser through winger Seiminlen Doungel. The goal was later overturned, but that did not stop Doungel from continuing to find the first goal of the night for his side. He made a headed effort straight afterwards, but a disciplined FC Goa defensive unit ensured that Jamshedpur FC was kept at bay until the end.

It would be fair to say that Goa held the upper hand early on in the proceedings. Sadaoui, Martinez, and star attacking midfielder Brandon Fernandes made multiple attempts to score past Yadav in the first half. They all made shots on target, but some prompt awareness and shot-stopping by the young custodian ensured that Scott Cooper and his men did not go behind early on in the proceedings.

Manolo Marquez and his tactical awareness deserves applause though, as he brought Rodriguez onto the field at a very crucial juncture in the game. His past performances warranted his introduction into the proceedings, but to take a sharp shooter like Martinez off at a time when the team was desperately searching for a goal was a brave decision. Marquez showed tremendous clarity of thought at that point in time, and that ensured that the Gaurs secured their fifth win of the season.

Key Performer of the Match

Victor Rodriguez (FC Goa)

Rodriguez was at it right from the moment he came on, as he attempted 14 passes, made a tackle and cross each in addition to showing some timely goal awareness to bag three points for his side. The player is making it increasingly difficult for Marquez to leave him out of the starting XI from now onwards.

What’s next for both teams?

FC Goa will next host Kerala Blasters FC at the Fatorda Stadium on December 3, whereas Jamshedpur FC will be squaring off against Odisha FC at the JRD Tata Sports Complex on December 1.

Brief Scores

FC Goa 1 (Victor Rodriguez 82’) - 0 Jamshedpur FC

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