FC Goa edged Indian Super League (ISL) debutant Punjab FC by a scoreline of 1-0 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Goa on Monday, courtesy of a 17th-minute strike by the home team’s Spanish signing Carlos Martinez.
Manolo Marquez’s men finished the game with 18 attempted shots, but most of them were wayward and missed the target.
Martinez had a passive opening 15 minutes. However, in the 17th minute, he sniffed a goal-scoring opportunity.
Carl McHugh won the ball and played a short pass to Raynier Fernandes. The 27-year-old collected it with a deft first touch and threaded a quick through ball for Martinez, who got to the ball on the move and slotted it into the back of the net on the bottom right corner with the outside of his right foot.
FC Goa came close to doubling its lead within five minutes of that strike. Noah Wail Sadaoui was the lone player from its frontline hovering around Punjab FC’s defensive unit. The Moroccan attacking midfielder sensed a long ball coming towards him, and Noah burst into a quick sprint to collect, control and steer the ball to the inside channel of the left flank. The 30-year-old took a firm shot at goal but it landed on the outside of the net.
Punjab’s skipper Luka Majcen came close to scoring the equaliser in the 65th minute. Second-half substitute Prasanth Karuthadathkuni, who created an impact from the right flank, spotted yards of open space.
His cross was mishandled by FC Goa’s goalkeeper Arshdeep Singh, and Majcen put the ball in on the rebound. However, the goal was soon ruled for an offside position.
The Gaurs held on to the lead and bagged a victory in their opening fixture of the ISL 2023-24.
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