FC Goa backed its tactical smartness in the first half and individual skill in the second session to outwit Mumbai City FC 1-0 for the first taste of victory in an away game of the third season of the Indian Super League. Brazilian Richalyson Felisbino tapped in the winner to end a frustrating phase stretching to four games for last year’s finalist.
Zico in charge as head coach meant FCG did not defend its lone-goal lead against a disjointed MCFC at the Mumbai Football Arena. Robin Singh missed a chance to score within handshaking distance. Julio Cesar displayed fast legs to come within range, missed again, forcing his coach to throw up hands in anguish.
Mumbai City boasted match-winners in Diego Forlan, Sony Norde, substitute Matias Defederico, substitute Jackichand Singh. FCG disrupted rhythm with a sequence of fouls in the first half, a dangerous ploy by the visitor, but escaped with warnings from the referee. The match-winner appeared a rehearsed move featuring two Brazilians Cesar and Richalyson.
Norde got a taste of FCG intentions when attempting to dance his way past a couple of rivals closing in on the sideline. Defender Almedia tripped the blond-haired Haiti hitman and was warned by the referee. Fouls and free-kicks increased as both sides opted for disruptive tactics.
Zico retained Snehasis in goal, using six foreigners up front, with four Brazilians (Dumas, Gonsalves, Cesar, Richarlyson), one Spaniard (Jofre) and French defender Arnolin leading the squad. Guimaraes handed a first team place to Mumbai teenager Mehta in the backline while Brazilian custodian Volpato manned the goal.
FCG continued to be disruptive to break down rival attacks around the centerline against the blue shirts, feeling the heat but denying Forlan and the home team a clear shot at goal. Romanian defender Golan clattered into his rival and got booked, conceding a free-kick on the right edge of the box. Referee Sandro Ricci had work to do, keeping tempers in check.
FCG got the first look at goal in the 37th minute. Almeida ran into space on the right and crossed across the goalmouth, before teammate Richalyson half-volleyed home the first goal in the 41st minute, completing a set piece move, in tandem with fellow Brazilian Cesar. The latter floated the ball in with his left, off a free-kick on the goalline. The striker connected first time, hitting high into the roof.
Volpato was beaten by the trajectory of the ball sent goalwards by Richarlyson before the breather. Minutes into the second half, he came under pressure but was lucky to escape when Robin Singh tapped wide. Guimareas maked his first move to bring about a change in momentum, bringing in winger Jackichand in place of midfielder Pronoy Halder.
Zico allowed his strikers to express themselves on the turf. Julio Cesar displayed his bundle of tricks to outwit a defender and floated into space on the left before hitting wide. FCG head coach seethed in frustration in his zone outside the dugout. Robin Singh picked up a yellow for a foul on Mehta, jostling for position before a corner kick.
Mandar Desai’s inclusion in the 75th minute displayed FCG’s focus to hunt for more goals rather than defend a 1-0 lead. Norde slipped through a maze of legs on an exciting burst through the middle but found his shot on the run blocked by Dumas. Forlan tried to curl the ball in off a free-kick, the ball veered far off the left post.