FC Goa head coach, Carlos Pena, felt his side deserved the victory despite the threat posed by the opposition in the second half as the Gaurs recorded a thrilling 4-2 win against East Bengal FC in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, in Goa, on Thursday.

Iker Guarrotxena starred with a hat-trick which was scored inside the first 23 minutes, and Brandon Fernandes extended the home side’s lead in the second half with a magnificent free-kick. East Bengal FC hit back with goals from VP Suhair and substitute Sarthak Golui. Stephen Constantine’s men continued to create chances, but couldn’t take them as FC Goa registered a second-straight win at home.

The victory lifts the Gaurs to the third spot in the Hero ISL table, while East Bengal FC continue to stay ninth after 12 points from 15 games. Pena lauded East Bengal FC’s fight in the second half, but stated his team were better throughout the game.

“They pushed us a lot in the second half. They created a lot of problems. They played with pride. They crossed a lot and had many set-pieces. They scored two goals but overall, we were better than them and deserved the victory. They came here with few chances remaining to reach the playoffs, but they played a good game,” said Pena at the official post-match press conference.

“We need to be humble. We are happy and confident. We need to think about how in the next game against Odisha FC we can get the three points and try to assure a place in the playoffs as soon as possible,” he added.

Guarrotxena stole the show for FC Goa with a 12-minute hat-trick, which is now the third fastest in Hero ISL history. The Spanish forward now has 10 goals to his name, becoming the leading goalscorer in the Hero ISL this season.

“It’s very important for a striker to score goals. Iker has helped the team since the start of the season. At the start, he didn't score too many goals but he worked a lot for the team. Now, he is having more accuracy. He’s understanding better what we want from him. I’m very happy for him because he is a hard worker and a nice person,” said FC Goa head coach Pena.

FC Goa were previously placed sixth, but two home on the trot sees them dethrone ATK Mohun Bagan to grab the third spot. Pena’s side have now won six of their eight games at the Fatorda Stadium. They have four matches to go, with two of them to be played at home. Pena feels his team is getting in good shape as they approach the final matches of the league stage.

“Many teams were having possibilities of getting into the top six. Many of them thought we were the opponent to catch. But when we lost against Hyderabad FC, I said the performance of the team was good. I felt that the team was improving. Against NorthEast United FC, we didn’t play a bad game, but we didn’t get the result. But now, the results are coming and the team is improving a lot. We are reaching the last games with our best performances and we are confident now. There are still four games to finish the league and then the playoffs, if we qualify. We need to keep working this way,” Pena concluded.