ISL: FC Goa and Mumbai City play out goalless draw

There was no dearth of chances at both ends but FC Goa and Mumbai City FC played out a draw in the Indian Super League at the Fatorda Stadium here on Wednesday.

Mumbai's Sunil Chhetri (right) and Goa's Gregory Arnolin during the Indian Super League game in Goa.   -  G. P. Sampath Kumar

Both sides will wonder how this fixture finished goalless. There was no dearth of chances at both ends but FC Goa and Mumbai City FC played out a draw in the Indian Super League at the Fatorda Stadium here on Wednesday.

Deep into stoppage time, Goa's Julio Cesar found himself in front of goal with only the 'keeper to beat, but his effort was comfortably saved by Amrinder Singh. It was, in a nutshell, the story of the game. The result lifted Goa (11 points) off the bottom of the ISL table - if only temporarily - but advancing to the semifinals now seems considerably harder. Mumbai (16 points) climbed up to second.

The contest burst into life after the interval. On the one-hour-mark, Zico brought off both his full-backs - Keenan Almeida and Debabrata Roy - and switched to a three-man defence.

Suddenly, Mumbai found the space it had desperately sought in the first half. Diego Forlan saw a great deal more of the ball than he had previously. The Uruguayan ran onto a pass from the back, rounded Gregory Arnolin, left him on the floor, and squared the ball for Sunil Chhetri. But from 15 yards out, Chhetri missed his kick. Minutes later, another ball over the top put Forlan through on goal, but the former Manchester United forward could manage only a weak shot.

With the clock ticking down, both sides appeared to be tiring as the game developed a rather frantic, scrappy feel. Robin Singh spurned a fine opportunity for Goa when, under pressure, he put Mandar Rao Desai's accurate cross wide.

With seven minutes left, Chhetri nearly found the net when he collected Forlan's lay-off, beat two men on the edge of the area, and fired a shot towards the far post. It took a fantastic save from Laxmikant Kattimani, diving full-length to his left, to deny India's record goal-scorer.

Goa had, without question, the better of the first half. The home team's principal strategy was to play its quick wingers - Mandar Rao Desai and Romeo Fernandes - in behind the defence. Rafael Coelho was at the heart of it all, spraying one delicate, diagonal pass after another into the flanks. The Brazilian was excellent in tight spaces, showing a deftness of touch absent in his colleagues. There was nothing to show for all that control, though.

Amrinder - playing his first game of the season - had little to do as Goa posed no kind of threat inside the box. Mumbai, for its part, struggled to drive forward. Chhetri was tightly marked and was forced, as a consequence, to drop deep for the ball. The visitor's only serious attempt on goal came via Forlan, who saw a fine strike from distance pushed over the bar. It was to be an evening for the goalkeepers.

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