An unforgettable night is what the FC Goa faithful wanted, and that is exactly what they got at the Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Fatorda on Thursday, when the Gaurs celebrated the return to their home ground with a resounding 3-0 victory over Jamshedpur FC.
Iker Guarrotxena and Noah Sadaoui led the charge for the Men in Orange with two early goals, while homegrown talent Brison Fernandes netted his first-ever league goal to cap off a memorable night for the team.
Thursday night also saw Carlos Pena take charge of the Gaurs for the first time in their own backyard. His tally of three wins in four matches now equals the joint-best start for an FC Goa coach ever.
Earlier in the day, he rang in two changes to the playing XI that started against Hyderabad FC last week - as Dheeraj Singh returned to his spot between the sticks and Fares Arnaout replaced the injured Marc Valiente. Arnaout’s home debut, however, reached an anticlimax when he himself sustained an injury in the 10th minute and had to be subbed off.
But by then, the hosts were already on the front foot, courtesy of an early strike by Iker Guarrotxena in the 2nd minute. A lovely ball in from Edu Bedia off a short corner-kick by Brandon found Redeem Tlang, who diverted it into Guarrotxena’s path for the 29-year-old to finish from close range.
In the 12th minute, the Gaurs doubled their lead through Noah Sadaoui. A well-rounded move by Pena’s boys eventually resulted in Brandon playing a forward ball into space that was expertly picked up by the Moroccan international before a rapier-like finish past the goalkeeper.
The two-goal cushion helped FC Goa settle into the game quite easily, as the Men of Steel chose to sit back and defend. This allowed the Gaurs to play their natural game, with plenty of ball possession and they hence created more goal-scoring chances at will.
Sadaoui was at the receiving end of most of such opportunities but unfortunately could not add more goals to his name tonight.
Following the change of ends, Jamshedpur FC switched to a more physical approach as they attempted to unsettle the hosts. FC Goa, however, continued to play to their strengths and even when they looked a bit flustered, Dheeraj Singh's commanding performance was enough to ease any nerves.
The icing on the cake for Pena’s boys came three minutes into stoppage time, when Brison Fernandes volleyed home from Saviour Gama’s pass to make it their third of the night. A part of the FC Goa setup since youth days, Brison’s goal is a victory in itself for the club as it stands a testament to their scouting and development system.
Courtesy of the victory, FC Goa now find themselves at second place in the ISL 2022-23 standings, with nine points from four matches. Their next assignment comes away from home against Kerala Blasters on November 13.