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ISL Results: Robin Singh strike helps Delhi edge Goa in first leg semifinal

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

Delhi Dynamos have moved closer to securing a place in the final of the 2015 Hero ISL, following a narrow 1-0 win over FC Goa in the first leg semifinals at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.

Robin Singh’s 42nd strike proved to be the winner as FC Goa were unable to find a way back into the game despite them getting a fair number of chances.

Roberto Carlos made six changes to his side that lost to Goa in their final league fixture, with Sanjiban, Anwar, Greene, Souvik, Gadze and Vinicius making way for Doblas, Chicao, Anas, Dos Santos, Mama and Sehnaj respectively.

Zico also opted to make the exactly same number of changes as Kattimani, Raju, Narayan, Arnolin, Moura and Sabeeth replaced Andrade, Roy, Bikramjit, Denson, Mandar and Dudu respectively.

The first chance of the game fell to Delhi in the 4th minute after Dos Santos broke away from the right and whipped the ball into the area. Although the Brazilian’s cross was cleared by Narayan Das, the ball drifted towards Florent Malouda. The Frenchman immediately went for goal, but his effort did not bother the goalkeeper as the ball flew into the stands.

Soon after, Robin Singh picked out Mama on the left side of the box, but the latter was only able to find the side netting with his effort.

Goa got their first chance of the game in the 12th minute, when Jofre, after managing to skip past a couple of defenders, picked out Sabeeth with a good cross in the middle of the box. The striker connected with a powerful header, but his effort went over.

In the 24th minute, Robin got a golden opportunity to put Delhi in front, after he was picked out by Malouda in a dangerous position inside the box. However, the chance went begging after the striker failed to keep his composure and blasted his effort over the bar.

Three minutes later Malouda was again the thick of the action as he played an inch perfect pass to pick out Dos Santos. The Brazilian, after finding it difficult to take a shot from a very tight angle on the right hand side of the box, tried to square the ball towards a teammate. However, his pass was cleared by Goa’s defence before it could pose a threat.

With only four minutes remaining in the first half, Malouda again picked out Dos Santos with an excellent through ball. The Brazilian surged forward and went for goal, but his effort was off target.

Delhi’s hard work finally bore fruit as the hosts went ahead via a Robin Singh header in the 42nd minute. Dos Santos, after doing well to outmuscle Pronay Halder on the left side of the box, pulled the ball back for Chicao, who in turn sent a fantastic delivery into the box. The cross was met by Robin, who met no mistakes as he powered a header past Laxmikant Kattimani to give his side the lead.

The visitors got a superb chance to level the scores right after the break, when Jofre whipped an excellent ball from the left. Sabeeth managed connect with the Spaniard’s cross at the far post, but his header was once again off target.

Moments later, the action swung towards the other end as Dos Santos blazed forward and picked out Adil Nabi in a very good position, just outside the box. The Pakistan-born striker had a terrific opportunity to double Delhi’s lead, but he slashed his effort wide after taking too much time to shoot.

Another chance followed for the hosts at the hour mark after Nabi was able to pick out Mama on the left flank with a clever through ball. The winger moved into a very good position inside the box. However, in the end, his effort was abysmal as the ball lazily drifted away for a goal kick.

Six minutes later, at the other end, Romeo Fernandes, after doing well to beat his marker, cut in dangerously from the right. He tried to cut the ball back towards a teammate, but his attempted pass was blocked and cleared by an alert John Riise.

Goa conceded a very dangerous free-kick (just outside the box) in the 69th minute, following Leonardo Moura’s foul on Malouda.  However, Delhi were unable to take advantage as Chicao blasted his free-kick over the crossbar.

Five minutes later, Delhi manager Roberto Carlos was seen holding his head in frustration after Malouda failed to convert from a very easy position. Mama teed up the former Chelsea man with an excellent pass through the legs of Pronay Halder, and the Frenchman was through on goal. Everyone had their money on Malouda to score, but the Frenchman somehow missed the target.

The final ten minutes of the game proved to be very interesting as both sides created a number of chances (although neither side was able to score).

First, Goa custodian Kattimani produced a top notch save to deny Dos Santos in the 84th minute. Soon after, Jonatan’s cross was headed over by Rafael at the other end.

Delhi then missed another opportunity in the 87th minute when Rafael’s terrific square ball was skied by Moura.

The Dynamos got a final chance to double their lead through Riise in the second minute of added time, but the Norwegian left-back wasted the opportunity as he blasted his free-kick over the bar.

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