Rafael free-kick earns FC Goa a win

Rafael Coelho answered head coach Zico’s call for cool heads in front of goal, scoring from a dead-ball situation, a dipping direct free-kick.

Rafael curls one past FC Pune City goalkeeper Edel Bete.   -  ISL

Rafael Coelho answered head coach Zico’s call for cool heads in front of goal, scoring from a dead-ball situation, a dipping direct free-kick. Boosted by the 32nd minute strike, FC Goa held on for a hard-earned 1-0 win over FC Pune City at the Balewadi stadium. The former is one among numerous Brazilians in the squad, part of a misfiring strike force.

As Rafael took position for the free-kick, one of his teammates, stationed at one edge of the wall, barged the wall to create space for Rafael to curl the ball through the gap and onward. Bete at the other post twisted and dived, but was beaten by the ball dipping in.

Zico chose Laxmikant Kattimani under the bar, the custodian pulled off excellent saves and was kept busy throughout the day. Bete in the rival goal could not produce the heroics coaches have come to expect from him in this event. A goalline save by Rahul Bheke denied Rafael another goal.

Neither team looked in control for a major part of the first half, frequent loss of possession robbed the game of rhythm. FCG sensed an opening with a free-kick award in the 32nd minute. Jofre was tripped by Augustin Fernandes, who got a yellow card. Rafael took charge and found the back of the net.

Kattimani dived at full stretch to tip away a fierce shot by Luca. The Brazilian weaved into a striking position around the goalmouth and fired a right-footer towards target. FCPC’s best effort towards the equaliser was foiled, Jesus Tato tested the FCG custodian next, but couldn't go past him.

The home team camped in the FCG half on resumption, worked hard to find space for a shot at target, but ended up retreating in a hurry as the visitor was more effective on the counter-attack, using both flanks. Zico and Habas pushed in fresh legs, the scoreline did not change.

FCG’s second win in its eighth match helped Zico’s squad lift themselves off the floor, taking them upwards from eighth position into seventh slot on the league table. FCPC slipped down to the last spot after seven matches.

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