ISL 2020-21: FC Goa qualifies for playoffs with goalless draw against Hyderabad FC

FC Goa became the fourth and final team to qualify for the 2020-21 Indian Super League playoffs after its 0-0 result against Hyderabad FC at the Fatorda Stadium.

FC Goa qualified for the Indian Super League playoffs a record sixth time in seven seasons.   -  ISL/SPORTZPICS

A goal-line clearance by Ivan Gonzalez and a superb leaping save by Dheeraj Singh, both deep into injury time, secured FC Goa the point it needed to bag the last available Indian Super League (ISL 2020-21) playoff spot, against Hyderabad FC at the Fatorda Stadium on Sunday.

It is the sixth time in seven years that Goa has made the last four, including four on the trot from 2017.

MATCH HIGHLIGHTS | ISL 2020-21 highlights, FCG vs HFC: Goa through to semifinals, Hyderabad knocked out

Three minutes into stoppage time, with the game locked at 0-0, Gonzalez cleared the ball from underneath the feet of an onrushing Liston Colaco after Dheeraj had palmed away a powerful shot by Hyderabad substitute Roland Alberg, across the face of the goal.

Three minutes later, Dheeraj spectacularly tipped over a misguided header by team-mate and defender Adil Khan.

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It would have been anti-climax if the ball had gone in, for Adil – who was excellent on the day – is at Goa on loan from Hyderabad. Instead, it ended in heart-break for Manuel Marquez’s excellent side that has played some eye-catching football through the season.

FC Goa players celebrate their qualification to the ISL playoffs.   -  ISL/Sportzpics

 

Needing a win on the final day, Hyderabad started with the same verve. Halicharan Narzary and Mohammed Yasir were constant threats, but Adil’s was a towering presence, shielding Dheeraj to great effect.

Redeem Tlang and Glan Martins hustled for Goa, mopping up stray balls, cutting off passing lines and on occasions, helping initiate attacks from the deep.

As the first half wore on, Goa grew more solid and controlled the pace of play and the second period too started in the same vein. With more than an hour gone, Marquez, desperate for a goal, removed forward Fran Sandaza and Yasir and introduced Alberg and Colaco. But the move failed to make any immediate impact.

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On 85 minutes though, Colaco came close after Joao Victor hooked the ball in and forward Joel Chianese failed to connect a header. A minute later, Hyderabad’s Lluis Sastre and Goa’s Alberto Noguera, both midfielders who had just been subbed, were sent off for a scuffle on the sidelines.

The game had suddenly sprung to life and the excitement spilled over into the seven minutes of added time. But a dogged Goa held on to remain unbeaten for the 13th game in a row, an ISL record.