Goa climb to fourth with win over Pune
Fatorda, November 22
FC Goa extracted their revenge on FC Pune City, beating them 2-0 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Fatorda, Goa, on Saturday night. It was the same margin by which they had lost to the visitors in Pune in the first leg encounter. Winger Romeo Fernandes got the opener for the winners in the 6th minute and substitute Miroslav Slepička added another in stoppage time to seal the victory.
The match started at a frenetic pace with the hosts getting into the right positions as soon as the opening whistle was blown. Arindam Bhattacharya was tested as early as the opening minute when Zohib Amiri floated his cross in on target and the Pune keeper had to tip it over the bar for a corner. Minutes later, Fernandes won a free kick on the right flank which was taken by André Santos. The sprightly winger got onto the end of it and his glancing header beat Bhattacharya hands down to give the hosts the lead.Santos tested Bhattacharya again in the half, when his free kick from the left side was goal bound, but the keeper managed to parry it away. It was then Pune’s turn to have a go and Park Kwang-Il almost got onto the score sheet after getting at the end of Kostas Katsouranis’ lobbed pass but was denied by Jan Šeda’s fingertips.
Goa came out in the second half more settled with an intention to hold on to the lead even as Pune showed more intent. Joachim Abranches was introduced by Franco Colomba for the first time in the competition after coming back from injury. He made an immediate impact but understandably wasn’t sharp enough to take the chances that came his way. Katsouranis managed to rattle the crossbar with an acrobatic effort from a corner, but that was the closest Pune got to equalising in the second half.
Colomba went with three strikers in an effort to save the game, throwing in David Trezeguet in the 83rd minute. But it was Zico’s introduction of Clifford Miranda, Miroslav Slepička and Jewel Raja that sealed victory for the hosts, as Miranda got onto a cross from Raja and headed it towards goal. The Czech target man got the last touch and put it away.
Goa now have three clean sheets in the past four games, and have stormed into the top half of the table, edging out Mumbai City FC on goal difference. FC Pune City are level on points (12) with Goa and Mumbai, but are sixth in the standings owing to inferior goal difference.
Goa play Kerala Blasters FC next at home on November 26 while Pune return home to take on Atlético de Kolkata on November 29.