ISL: Mumbai’s best not able to halt Goa’s march into final

Breathing easy on the back of a tearaway 5-1 win in the away leg play-off, FC Goa went down to Rafael Bastos goal at home in the Nehru stadium.

Rafael Bastos

Rafael Bastos scored in both legs of the playoff against FC Goa. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough for Mumbai City to reach the final.   -  ISL/SPORTZPICS

FC Goa, playing at full strength in keeping with coach Sergio Lobera’s assertion, qualified for the second final in five seasons of Indian Super League the hard way. Breathing easy on the back of a tearaway 5-1 win in the away leg play-off, the host went down to Rafael Bastos goal at home in the Nehru stadium. The fans let out a roar at the final whistle, buoyed by the 5-2 aggregate over two legs home and away.

AS IT HAPPENED

MCFC demonstrated a change in approach, executed the tactics devised by coach Jorge Costa by sitting deep in its own half. Needing to win by a five-goal margin to pip the most exciting side in the competition, the blue shirts were not able to beat Goa goalkeeper Naveen Kumar again on an exciting night under the lights and went out after playing the right game in the wrong match. Applause from football-crazy fans was the only consolation for the loser, besides self-pride.

The visitor silenced a sea of orange in the stands just six minutes into the game. Arnold Issoko, the most dangerous player in the first leg, picked up the ball off a miss-pass, darted ahead, leaped over a defensive challenge before rolling it along the turf for teammate Bastos to glide in on cue and guide the ball into the net.

The Congo playmaker and the Brazilian winger had teamed up to strike first for the visitor in the away leg at Mumbai, this time the script took a different twist in the face of a determined MCFC rearguard. The defence played close to deny the eager Goa ball-players a clear view of target.

Lucian Goian

Lucian Goian was a rock at the back for Mumbai City at the Fatorda Stadium. PHOTO: ISL/SPORTZPICS   -  ISL/SPORTZPICS



The home team applied pressure in and around the rival goalmouth, earned two free-kicks within striking distance of goal but Brandon Fernandes did not find his man in the goalmouth. A stream of corner-kicks did not yield results. Lobera was forced to take out creative ace Ahmed Jahouh, who suffered a hand injury, and put in Edu Bedia. MCFC’s mix of physical play and counter attacks helped keep its nose ahead at half-time.

Subashish Bose was a big name missing in the MCFC defence, paying the price for a collective below-par show by the backline in the first leg when FCG ran riot. The first half saw frantic action, and the flow changed after the breather, Lobera’s team slowed down the pace and cashed in on speed with the ball to attack in waves.

Amrinder, who had his captaincy off him and given to Paulo Machado, rescued his team twice under the bar as the home team came close to equalising in the second half. Jackichand Singh tried to put Ferran Corominas on the move with a precise floater. The custodian rushed out and parried, the ball rolled towards the Spaniard’s range but was denied by the goalkeeper.