ISL: FC Goa outclasses Chennaiyin FC to win 3-2

FC Goa ran riot at the Marina Arena on Sunday, as it scored three first half goals and survived a late Chennaiyin FC fightback to get its ISL campaign off to a winning start with a 3-2 win.

Mandar Rao Dessai (Left)of FC Goa celebrates with Manuel Lanzarote Bruno after scoring the goal against Chennaiyin FC on Sunday.   -  M. Vedhan

John Gregory promised a pragmatic approach to the first game and the way Chennaiyin FC lined up against FC Goa was proof of the pudding. Lining up in a 3-5-2 formation with Thoi Singh, a midfielder by trade, deployed as a right wing back and defender Inigo Calderon playing alongside Raphael Augusto in midfield, it seemed Gregory was happy to play for a point.

However, his side got none as the Goans ran riot at the Marina Arena on Sunday, outclassing the host with some slick passing even as it unsurprisingly had the lion’s share of possession. 

MATCH CENTRE

The 3-2 scoreline suggests the contest was closer than it was but the 18,213 present at the stadium were only too aware of the superior side.

It was obvious that Gregory got his tactics wrong, as Goa consistently found itself outnumbering Chennaiyin FC defenders in counter attacks; such was the gulf in class between the two sides.

After creating a few chances, while not allowing CFC a sniff at goal, Goa finally broke the deadlock in the 25 minute. The visiting side cleared a Chennaiyin corner and after Jerry Lalrinzuala was dispossessed in Goa’s half, a scathing counter attack saw Ferran Corominas Telechea heading towards goal. A neat one two with Brandon Fernandes saw the Spaniard one on one with ‘keeper Karanjit Singh and his side-footed finish nestled in the back of the net.

Goa doubled its lead four minutes later in an air of inevitability, with Manuel Bruno scoring courtesy of a cheeky lob.

The visiting side constantly sliced through the home defence with precise through balls, and its superior speed had the home side gasping for breath. Mandar Rao Dessai killed the game off in the 39 minute after yet another turnover from the home side; the culprit this time was the lethargic Augusto, who was easily dispossessed.

READ: "I got the team wrong," laments Gregory

Bruno released Dessai on the left side and the Indian attacking midfielder took aim at goal. Karanjit did get his palm to Dessai’s left-footer but to no avail as the crowd went silent.

Chennaiyin started the second half in a frenzy, and rejigged its lineup to a different shape, and it almost paid immediate dividends. A frenzied two-minute period saw CFC’s Jeje Lalpekhlua smashing the right post after a defensive mix up but the host should have opened its account in the 48 minute.

Half-time substitute Gregory Nelson nicked the Goan defender as the visitor tried to build play from the back, as it had been doing all evening. The Netherlands forward then found himself with only the ‘keeper to beat but he somehow managed to find the left post as his effort went out for a goalkick.

Calderon reduced the deficit, and woke up the crowd, in the 70th minute, courtesy a blunder from Goa custodian Laxmikant Kattimani as the latter palmed a tame freekick into the net.

In the 85th minute the home side did make it nervous for the Goans, with Augusto making no mistake from 12 yards but the first half carnage proved to be too much to overcome.