After two days of binary results and scrappy games, fans and neutrals were left hungry for some riveting football; and what better way to break the monotony – a match between two Goliaths.
Unlike other clashes though, this fixture has had its fair share of history. A total of five red cards have been brandished in their last seven meetings with one even coming in an ISL final. While Ferrando was looking to end the three point drought against BFC, Cuadrat was eager to make amends for the follies of last season.
The game ended with the sides sharing the spoils. The Blues took a 2-0 lead thanks to goals from Cleiton Silva (27’) and Juanan (57’), but FC Goa were able to restore parity courtesy an Igor Angulo brace (66’, 69’).
The match started with both sides sticking to their initial game-plans. Expectedly, the Gaurs sought to keep the ball while Bengaluru held their ground patiently. One could see Edu Bedia shouting instructions in hopes of penetrating the opposition’s lines, but all that came out of it were passes among defenders. In the odd event where BFC did have the ball, they tried to find their wide men who were eventually outnumbered by orange shirts.
Neither team was able to break through until the 27th minute. A seemingly harmless throw-in from Khabra was cleared poorly by Donachie. His wayward header put it on a platter for Cleiton Silva, who powered through his man and headed it past Nawaz from close range. Now that Cuadrat had his goal, he was ready to make life tough for Goa. The Blues started sitting deeper and tried to stifle the game.
Yet another chance cropped up for Bengaluru when Cleiton back-heeled a pin-point cross into Chhetri’s path. The skipper wanted to blast the ball into the top corner, but ended up making little to no contact with it. Donachie eventually got to the ball and cleared it out to safety.
The score stood at 1-0 when the first half ended with each team having only a shot on target. The initial stages of the second half didn’t look all too different apart from a few substitutions from the teams. Goa were still unable to breach the block, and Bengaluru relied on long balls.
Akin to their first goal, Bengaluru’s second goal also seemed to come out of nowhere. Ashique floated a hopeful ball into the box, which found a couple heads and was eventually tapped in by Juanan. Celebrations ensued, and it looked like BFC were ready to completely shut up shop.
Desperate to draw level, Ferrando opted for a double switch. Alberto Noguera replaced Lenny Rodrigues and Aiban Dohling came on for James Donachie in the 65th minute. This was exactly what Goa needed. An incisive pass by Brandon found Noguera between the lines who swiftly set up Angulo for a one-on-one. The Spaniard tucked it into the side netting with ease and promptly returned to the halfway line to resume play.
In just three minutes, Angulo struck again. This time, Brandon found Romario out wide, who crossed it in first time. The veteran got to the end of it and bumped the ball in with his stomach. Calls for offside were waved away by the linesman and the Gaurs embraced each other in joy. The substitutions worked and they were back on level terms.
The remaining 20 minutes saw a more open game unfold. Both teams were desperate for a win, but were also wary of the threat the other possessed. In the end, neither team was able to capitalize and left the Fatorda with a point each.
The result puts both clubs in third place behind ATK Mohun Bagan and Northeast United FC. The Gaurs will take to the pitch again on Wednesday against west coast rivals Mumbai City FC. In what could be a feisty reunion with MCFC coach Sergio Lobera switching sides before the new season, both teams will be looking to pick up their first win of the season.
A tactical thread from our analyst Shlok. Click on the post to see the full thread: