Super-sub Thapa gives Chennai crucial away goal
FC Goa were held to a 1-1 draw against Chennaiyin FC in the first leg of the second semi-final of Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2017-18 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Goa on Saturday. Manuel Lanzarote gave Goa the lead in the second half but substitute Anirudh Thapa scored an equaliser soon after.
It was a fast-paced start to the contest with neither side holding back in the opening stages as they looked to assert their dominance in the tie early on. Chennai had a chance of breaking the deadlock in the 8th minute when Francisco Fernandes found Jeje Lalpekhlua in a good area. The Mizo Sniper’s shot though went right across the face of the goal.
Chennai’s full-back Jerry Lalrinzuala then tested Goa goalkeeper Laxmikant Kattimani in the 23rd minute when a free-kick by the former forced the latter into a low save. Five minutes later, Goa’s top-scorer Ferran Corominas had an effort of his blocked by Chennai’s Mailson Alves to the relief of the visitors.
The southerners responded through Gregory Nelson in the 34th minute when he fired an effort straight at Kattimani. Goa’s Mandar Rao Dessai had a go at goal as well six minutes before half-time once he had cut in from the right.
His attempt, however, sailed over the crossbar to the disappointment of the home crowd. The last chance of the half went the visitors’ way after Nelson saw his left-footed effort go wide of the far post in the 44th minute as it stayed 0-0 at the break.
Chennai had a big chance to open the scoring three minutes into the second period following an exquisite ball by Mailson Alves to Jeje, who chested the ball down well and had just the goalkeeper to beat. Kattimani though produced a wonderful save with his feet to keep it scoreless. Nelson went through on goal a minute later but Kattimani was there again to deny Chennai with his legs.
Goa broke the deadlock four minutes after the hour-mark when Corominas’ shot was saved by Chennai’s goalkeeper Karanjit Singh. The rebound, however, fell kindly for Lanzarote to slot home and make it 1-0 for Goa.
The southerners were behind for just seven minutes thanks to a goal from substitute Thapa, who bagged a crucial away goal. Nelson played a delightful pass for Thapa, who took a touch before firing through Kattimani’s legs to silence the home crowd.
Both sides tightened up in the closing stages as they looked to stay in the fixture heading into the return leg. Goa looked to push harder in search of a winner, but Chennai defended in resolute fashion to ensure the match ended 1-1 for them to take a crucial away goal into the second leg.
Club Award: FC Goa and Chennaiyin FC
Swift Limitless Player: Manuel Lanzarote
DHL Winning Pass of the Match: Gregory Nelson
Amul Fittest Player: Mandar Rao Dessai
Emerging Player: Anirudh Thapa
Hero of the Match: Gregory Nelson
Watch the match highlights here: