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Goa ease into ISL final after thumping Delhi 3-0

Photo Courtesy: ISL's official website
Photo Courtesy: ISL’s official website


FC Goa managed to successfully bounce back from their first leg semifinal defeat, and book a place in the 2015 ISL final, following a convincing 3-0 victory over Delhi Dynamos at the Fatorda Stadium.

Early strikes from Jofre and Rafael Coelho, coupled with a late strike from Dude proved to be too much for Delhi, who were not even able to score a consolation.

Zico opted to make five chances to his side that lost to Delhi in the first leg, with Romeo, Mandar, Bikramjit, Dudu and Rafael replacing for Narayan, Raju, Lucca, Reinaldo and Sabeeth. Roberto Carlos, meanwhile, named an unchanged side that emerged victorious against Zico’s side in the first leg.

As soon as the game kicked off, Goa blazed forward and nearly broke the deadlock as Romeo’s cross was narrowly headed wide by Rafael Coelho.

Some more attacking football from the hosts again saw them nearly take the lead in the seventh minute, when was released in a very dangerous position, just outside the box. Although Riise managed to block Jofre’s effort, the rebound fell to Rafael, who made a good run towards the byline, before whipping in a dangerous cross across the face of goal. However, in the end, the move came to nothing as there were no blue shirts in the box to guide in Rafael’d cross.

Goa’s continued attacks soon bore fruit as they finally took the lead in the 11th minute through Jofre.  A short free-kick from the hosts resulted in Pronay Halder slipping the ball towards Jofre on the right. The Spaniard, after easily getting past Riise, fired a low effort that went in after taking a deflection off a Delhi defender.

12 minutes later, the hosts got a terrific opportunity to double their advantage, when Romeo, after cutting in from the right, tested Toni Doblas with a good effort. Although the Spanish goalkeeper was able to parry, the ball rebounded back towards Romeo. With only an empty net in front of him, everyone expected Romeo to score, but somehow he dragged his shot wide.

In the 26th minute, Delhi got an excellent to get the leveller when Sehnaj picked out Adil Nabi with a good pass at the far post. The on-loan West Brom forward immediately fired an effort, but his shot was a couple of inches wide of the target.

Delhi’s wastefulness in front of goal was soon punished as Goa doubled their through Rafael Coelho in the 27th minute. The Brazilian, after collecting a long ball from Bikramjit Singh, advanced towards the box, before firing a terrific effort that nestled into the back of the net, after hitting the inside of the far post.

Eight minutes later, a wonderful cross from Robert found Malouda in a good position inside the box. However, before the former Chelsea could muster an effort, the ball was cleared for a corner by Laxmikant Kattimani. Malouda tried to score directly from the resulting corner but an alert Kattimani was again able to punch clear.

Just before the half-time break, Dos Santos made a weaving run into the box from the right. Although, the Brazilian’s progress was halted by a Goa defender, the ball fell towards Malouda. The former France midfielder immediately fired an effort, but his shot was blocked by Lucio.

Four minutes into the second half, Nabi, after picking up the loose ball just outside the box, tried his luck from range, but the forward’s effort went straight into the grateful arms of Kattimani.

In the 53rd minute, Dudu, after managing to outmuscle Sehnaj, sent a perfect pass towards Romeo, who found himself clean through on goal. Although the winger’s low effort was saved well by Doblas, the rebound fell into the path of an onrushing Leonardo Moura, who missed an excellent opportunity as he blasted the ball into the stands.

The game was finally bed to in the 84th minute after Goa tripled their through Dudu. A short corner from Moura resulted in Jofre finding Romeo at the far post. The winger immediately whipped in a lovely cross towards Dudu, who made no mistakes as he easily slotted the ball past Doblas.

A moment of controversy erupted in the 88th minute after Nabi, who was substituted in the 58th minute, received a straight red card for arguing with the referee on the touchline. The Pakistan-born forward, who was booed off the pitch, displayed poor sportsmanship as he threw his training vest off and stormed off into the tunnel.

Delhi got a good chance to grab a consolation in the first minute of added time, after Dos Santos’ corner found Richard Gadze in a crowded penalty area. The Ghanaian connected with a header, but his effort was blocked by a defender. Finally the ball drifted towards Robin Singh, but the striker was unable to hit the target as his headed effort sailed over the crossbar.

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