Chennaiyin FC secured their place in the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2019-20 final after edging out FC Goa by a 6-5 aggregate scoreline over the two-legged semi-finals. The Gaurs won their second leg at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Goa on Saturday 4-2, but it wasn’t quite enough to overturn a 4-1 defeat they suffered in the first leg back in Chennai last week.
The Gaurs made a spirited start, piling men forward from the get-go. Carlos Pena had a headed opportunity from Ahmed Jahouh’s free kick very early but couldn’t quite get his effort on target. Chennaiyin also had an early crack with Rafael Crivellaro drawing out a good save from Mohammad Nawaz with a low driven free kick.
However, the home team was relentless in their pursuit for the opening goal and launched repeated raids on the Chennaiyin box. They pressure finally paid off in the 10th minute. Jahouh set Jackichand Singh free with a quickly taken free kick but with space running out, the winger hooked it back into the danger zone. With Hugo Boumous and Ferran Corominas rushing into the six-yard box, Lucian Goian tried to head it to safety but ended up diverting the ball into his own net.
To Chennaiyin’s credit, they didn’t withdraw into a shell after conceding the goal and launched a few counter attacks of their own, but it was the Gaurs who were mostly on the offensive. In the 21st minute, Goa made it 2-0 as Mourtada Fall headed home a Brandon Fernandes free-kick past Vishal Kaith. While the celebrations were ongoing, Goa did suffer bit of a setback as Boumous went down with an injury. Edu Bedia replaced the Frenchman to join Goa’s raid.
Boumous’ exit did seem to blunt the Goa offensive slightly as the Marina Machans slowly started to claw their way back into the contest. The intense and eventful first half ended with Goa 2-0 up.
Goa began the second half just how they started the first and Jacki had a golden opportunity to score Goa’s third in the 48th minute. He was free on goal but couldn’t get the connection he wanted with his shot.
In the 52nd minute, Chennaiyin made Goa pay for the miss. Rafael Crivellaro’s driven shot was parried away by Nawaz, but the Goa goalkeeper couldn’t get the ball out of the danger zone. Lallianzuala Chhangte promptly followed up to make it 2-1. Seven minutes later, Chennaiyin equalized with Nerijus Valskis heading in from a corner.
Shortly after, Anirudh Thapa came close to making it 3-2 but Nawaz made a good save to deny the midfielder. Goa, meanwhile, tried hard to hit back but saw two attempts, one by Corominas and the other by Manvir Singh cleared off the goal line in around the 67th minute. Seconds later, Manvir hit the woodwork, much to the disappointment of the home fans.
With ten minutes of regulation time remaining, Bedia made it 3-2 for the Gaurs with a tidy finish. It was also Goa’s 50th goal of the season. Seconds later, Fall made it 4-2 after pouncing onto a loose ball from the deep and heading it home.
The goal set up a frantic finish to the contest with Goa needing to score two more to complete the unlikeliest of turnarounds. In the 90th minute, Fall found himself free at the far post but terribly mistimed his header, letting Chennaiyin off the hook. Almost immediately at the other end, Goa found themselves reduced to 10 men as Saviour Gama received his marching orders for his second booking of the night. The match ended 4-2 in Goa’s favour but the result wasn’t quite enough to get them to the final.
The Senegalese centre-back scored a brace on the night to give FC Goa hope of overturning the massive 4-1 first leg deficit. Besides his two goals, Fall also contributed with seven clearances and won three aerial duels. He was the Hero of the Match.
ISL Media Release