FC Goa take down Chennaiyin FC 3-2 in a five-goal thriller
Chennai: Chennaiyin FC head coach John Gregory had stated before the game he would be pragmatic in his approach towards the game and he stayed true to his word by starting with a 5-man defence. Captain Henrique Sereno, Mailson Alves and Dhanachandra Singh were deployed in central defence while Thoi Singh and Jerry Lalrinzuala started as the wing-backs.
Raphael Augusto and Rene Mihelic were in midfield with Jeje Lalpekhlua and Baoringdao Bodo, who became the youngest player to play in the ISL, leading the lines.
FC Goa coach Sergio Lobera started with a 4-3-2-1 formation that saw Edu Garcia and Manuel Lanzarote supporting Spanish striker Ferran Corominas in the attack. Bruno Pinheiro and Mohamed Ali marshalled the defence with Lobera's trusted henchman Ahmed Jahouh controlling proceedings in midfield.
The game got off to a positive start with the home team pressing high and earning a couple of half chances, which were dealt with well by the FC Goa defence.
The game soon settled into what many expected it to be with FC Goa controlling possession and trying to work their way forward. However, Chennaiyin were pressing high and hard and restricting space for Manuel Lanzarote and Edu Bedia to influence proceedings.
Which also meant FC Goa put themselves under pressure while trying to pass the ball out from the back and one mispass allowed Chennaiyin to send a long throwin which caused all sorts of issues in the Goa box but before Calderon could latch on to it, the ball was cleared.
The Gaurs did create some encouraging moves, with one such period of passing culminating in Bedia releasing Brandon behind the Chennaiyin defence down the left. However, the midfielder's cross was weak and was cleared.
The first corner of the game came in the 13th minute for the home side and Mihelic's delivery was almost headed in by a free Calderon who just could not get the required connection to direct it goalwards.
FC Goa carved out a fantastic opening in the 18th minute when Jerry Lalrinzuala lost the ball on an offensive run and Goa capitalised by releasing the ball early to Brandon. The Goan midfielder spotted Coro peeling off the defender and played a brilliant through ball to him.
The striker returned the favour by finding Brandon on the edge of the area with a square ball. However, with the goalkeeper at his mercy, Brandon blazed the first-time shot well over.
However, seven minutes later Brandon made amends of sorts by laying on an assist for Ferran Corominas to score the first goal of the ISL season. After Chennaiyin FC's corner was headed out, Brandon Fernandes pressed hard and dispossessed Jerry, before finding Coro who was one on one with the last man Dhanachandra Singh.
He proceeded to release Brandon who returned the favour before Coro slid a finish past on onrushing Karanjit.
Things got worse for the home side just three minutes later when Edu Bedia ripped their defence open with a fantastic through-ball for Coro who was in space down the right side of the penalty box. His hasty shot was beaten out by Karanjit who had to block a follow up from Mandar but the loose ball fell to Lanzarote who proceeded to lob the ball over the stranded goalkeeper. As the multitude in the Marina Arena watched with bated breaths, the ball went in off the underside of the bar, sending the FC Goa bench into raptures.
A stunned Chennaiyin FC showed none of the early enterprises they had as FC Goa started dominating at will. In the 38th minute, they made it 3-0 after yet another incisive move that cut through the Chennaiyin defence like hot knife through butter.