A point may not be enough to fuel their quest for the top-four spots, but FC Goa will gladly take it tonight against Odisha FC after yet another frustrating display in the final third by the Gaurs. In what was largely an end-to-end affair, Derrick Pereira’s men had to rely on a final-minute equalizer by Alexander Romario Jesuraj to remain mathematically alive in the playoffs race.
Jonathas de Jesus scored for OFC in the 60th minute, giving them a lead they would hold on to until the final seconds of the game. Romario, however, had other plans as he headed home his second goal of the ongoing Indian Super League (ISL) campaign from point-blank range in the fourth minute of added-on time to eke out a point for FC Goa.
FC Goa were easily the better team in the first half. They kick-started the proceedings and created the most chances. Derrick Pereira and his men also had the best chances to take the lead, and it began right in the first minute when Edu Bedia floated a free-kick over the crossbar from a promising position.
Between the 10 and the 15 minute mark, Alberto Noguera got involved in two chances that could have helped the Goans take an early lead. He shot wide first, before playing a key pass to Airam Cabrera who then skied his attempt.
By the time drinks break arrived, the Gaurs had made two more attempts to find the back of the net, but Brandon Fernandes and Bedia missed the target from two well-strung moves.
Odisha goalkeeper Arshdeep Singh had a field day on the field, snuffing out as many as three attempts by FC Goa players in the first half alone. Aiban Dohling and Edu Bedia tested him the most, with two long-range attempts.
Right before the end of the first half, Odisha FC had their best chance to score when FC Goa ‘keeper Naveen Kumar made a grave error in front of goal. They, however, failed to exploit the opportunity and the Gaurs were handed a lifeline.
Odisha began strongly in the second half, pressing and winning the ball in good areas to fuel menacing attacks. FC Goa battled effectively to an extent until the 60th minute when Noguera’s poorly timed tackle brought Javi Hernandez down in the box.
Jonathas stepped up, and calmly shot into the top-left corner with Naveen Kumar diving the wrong way.
The team from Bhubaneswar became more active after taking the lead, as they intensified their attacks through the flank. The Gaurs mostly replied with equal ferocity, launching more shots than in the first half. At the same time, however, the mistakes in defence increased.
In the 76th minute, Jerry Mawihmingthanga almost doubled his team’s lead, but his audacious attempt to chip the keeper crashed off the crossbar. The Gaurs later got more chances to find an equaliser in the form of two identical free-kicks from the left and right sides, but failed to mark any mark with the attempts.
FC Goa finally got what they were looking for, in the fourth minute of injury time, when a delightful cross by Airam Cabrera was headed home by substitute Alexander Romario’sfrom close-range in what was virtually the last touch of the game.
The Gaurs now find themselves with 15 points from as many matches, and remain in ninth place. Odisha, meanwhile, moved up to 7th, tied on points with Mumbai City and Chennaiyin.
FC Goa will be back in action on 10 February, in a meeting with Chennaiyin FC. That game is scheduled for a 7:30 pm kickoff.
FC Goa Media Release