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FC Goa book their berth in the semis

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By EMN Updated: Dec 05, 2014 9:42 pm
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Agencies
Chennai, December 5

FC Goa cruised into the semi-finals of the Indian Super League (ISL) in style as they thrashed Chennaiyin FC 3-1 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Chennai on Friday evening.
Goals from Romeo Fernandes, Andre Santos and Miroslav Slepicka were enough to seal their only second victory of the season. Jean Eudes Maurice did pull one back for the southern side in the stoppage time to deny Goa the honour of keeping a cleansheet yet again.
Goa now have 21 points with a move to go and are just a point behind Chennaiyin FC who top the ISL standings.
The hosts started brightly, maintaining a high line on Goa. In the second minute, Bruno Pelissari found space outside the box and took a left-footed shot which went straight to Seda in goal.Matters heated up in the 14th minute as Goa did well to force their way back into the game after absorbing the early Chennai pressure. Andre Santos nutmegged Mendy on the left flank with the Frenchman pushing the Brazilian down to concede a free-kick. Tempers flared further and Mendy and Hidalgo were booked for protesting while Gregory fired over from the set-piece.
Much against the run of play, Goa took the lead with quarter of the game gone through Romeo Fernandes. The visitors suddenly came into their own on the left flank with Mandar’s pile-driver from distance clattering Shilton Paul’s horizontal post. The rebound was intercepted off Slepicka’s feet but the ball fell to Romeo who lashed it in with his left foot from around the penalty spot.
With five minutes to go to half-time, Goa once again struck Paul’s goal-frame against the run of play. Santos’ free-kick from the left was completely missed by Paul and the ball flashed past his goal-line dangerously.
In the 41st minute, Goa took advantage of Paul’s inefficiencies as Santos drove in the second goal of the game via his left-foot after being found fortuitously in the box by Slepicka whose high foot on Silvestre went unpunished though.
In the closing stages of the first half, Chennai came close with Hidalgo and Suarez working well on the right flank but the half ended with Goa firmly with the advantage at 2-0.
Chennaiyin made a half-time change with the lively Jayesh Rane going off for Balwant Singh. The hosts soon were forced into their second change of the night as Djemba-Djemba succumbed to a groin injury, to be replaced by Bojan Djordjic. Then with the hour mark nearing Chennaiyin made their final change with the Haitian forward Jean-Eudes Maurice coming on for the off-colour Pelissari.
Chennaiyin were now susceptible on the counter as they pushed forward in search of a goal. Mandar made one such run but shot straight at Paul who did well to hold on.
And this susceptibility was duly taken advantage of on 61 minutes as Narayan Das marauded down the flank and shot at Paul, who parried it into the path of the advancing Slepicka who tapped it in to score his fifth goal in the competition
At the other end, Silvestre surprisingly popped up on the left flank and crossed it into the box for a glancing header from Balwant which went wide of goal.
But on 80 minutes Chennaiyin had half a chance to pull one back with Khabra finding Balwant on the left in the Goa box; but the striker’s left-footed attempt went wastefully wide. Three minutes later, Denson brought a comfortable save out of Seda from about the same area of the pitch with the hosts clearly out of ideas at this stage.
In the dying embers of the game, Chennaiyin did get a consolation as Maurice got on the end of Bojan’s pass and passed the ball into the net with goalkeeper Seda and defender Gregory caught in no-man’s land.
The consolation was definitely not enough as Chennaiyin succumbed to their first home defeat in rather meek fashion. The visitors joined their beaten opponents in the semi-final stage with this clinical victory. More impressively, they go into their final league game with Altetico de Kolkata now unbeaten in the last seven matches, winning five on the trot.

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By EMN Updated: Dec 05, 2014 9:42:24 pm