FC Goa coast into ISL final

December is a season of festivities in Goa – of Christmas, Sunburn music fest et al. On Tuesday it’s much loved football side FC Goa, cheered on by over 19,000 fans who thronged the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here in Fatorda, gave itself a chance to join in as well by reaching the Indian Super League final.

Dudu celebrates the third goal for FC Goa against Delhi Dynamos.   -  ISL Sportzpics

December is a season of festivities in Goa – of Christmas, Sunburn music fest et al. On Tuesday it’s much loved football side FC Goa, cheered on by over 19,000 fans who thronged the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here in Fatorda, gave itself a chance to join in as well by reaching the Indian Super League final.

They beat Delhi Dynamos 3-0, with goals from Joffre, Rafael Coelho and Dudu, to overturn a 1-0 first leg deficit. In next Sunday’s final here it will meet either Chennaiyin FC or Atletico de Kolkata.

On the day, Dynamos fielded an unchanged side from the one which won at home. Zico, on the other hand, rang in five changes with Dudu, Rafael, Mandar Dessai, Bikramjit Singh and Romeo Fernandes all making the eleven.

For close to quarter of an hour Dynamos didn’t even sniff the ball. Goa, as they have always done when on song, made full use of their midfield five and in particular the flanks manned by Romeo and Mandar on the right and left respectively.

After a period of sustained pressure Prannoy Halder, from deep inside his half, sent a ball straight to Joffre on the right flank, who after running across the length of the defence, sent a low deflected shot in for the opening goal.

In fact, it took until the 20th minute for the Dynamos to even tread into the final third – an interchange of passes between Adil Nabi and Dos Santos that however caused little trouble.

From there on, the visitors saw the ball for a few minutes but it was also the period when Goa showed what they can do when not in possession. A searing counter on 27 minutes saw Mandar deliver an inch-perfect long ball to Rafael, who after evading two defenders, scored at the far post from the edge of the area.

By then the trio of Prannoy, Moura and Joffre had established such hegemony in the centre of the pitch that Roberto Carlos had to introduce midfielder Hans Mulder to replace John Arne Riise and stem the rot. The move did relieve Florent Malouda of some of his defensive duties but apart from a spike in the possession stats, little changed.

Seven minutes into the second half, Romeo should have put the result beyond doubt when he tried to tap in the cross from Dudu on the left, but was thwarted by a great save by Antonio Santana. Another chance went begging when Joffre couldn’t convert from superbly weighted through-ball by Moura in the 67th minute.

In between Dynamos did manage to fire a few shots on goal, but each of them nestled safely in Laxmikant Kattimani’s hands.

Goa traced the home stretch pretty much the same way they started the match. A goal in the 84th minute by Dudu off a Romeo cut-back sealed the deal. It sent the Goa dugout into a tizzy with a couple support staff even acrobatically jumping in front of the Dynamos bench.

Nabi, already substituted, was even sent off for remonstrating immediately after. In fact, the match overall, saw plenty of fouls (eight yellow cards) and resultant protests. But from Carlos there was only a chuckle and a hand shake. It was that kind of a night; one on which he could do nothing.

The result: FC Goa 3 (Joffre 11, Rafael 27, Dudu 84) bt Delhi Dynamos 0