Hyderabad FC began and ended the day as Hero Indian Super League (ISL) leaders but for a brief two-hour period when ATK Mohun Bagan had earlier replaced them at the top. Hyderabad were pushed until the end by FC Goa but emerged 3-2 winners at the Athletic Stadium in Bambolim.
A brace from Bartholomew Ogbeche and a goal from Joao Victor saw HFC overtake ATK Mohun Bagan. The Kolkata-based club had reached the top with a draw against Kerala Blasters earlier in the day. As for Derrick Pereira’s men, it was a second successive defeat that keeps them in the ninth position.
FC Goa started brightly but survived an early scare when Makan Chote tripped Nikhil Poojary who was darting towards the goal. The youngster escaped with a yellow card as the HFC players argued for a stricter punishment. The breakthrough came from Bartholomew Ogbeche (25’), who scored his 15th goal of the season with a precise header from Asish Rai’s cross.
In the response to the goal, Ortiz (35’) found the back of the net ten minutes after conceding with a clinical finish in the bottom left corner, pouncing on a scrumptious through ball from Alberto Noguera. However, Ogbeche (41’) regained the lead for his team with his 16th goal of the season, a personal record. It was also the 51st goal in the all-time records for the Nigerian, which takes him above Sunil Chhetri and helped the Nizams go into the halftime break with a slender lead.
The second half saw the Gaurs push with intent for the equaliser. Princeton Rebello came close with a volley that went narrowly past the target from long range. Although, it was the Nizams that scored against the run of play through their skipper Joao Victor (70’), who scored from distance at the stroke of the 70th minute. Two minutes later, Devendra Murgaonkar (73’) scored with a seething header, justifying his appearance from the bench.
The final stages of the match saw masterful defending from Hyderabad. The defensive line was particularly disciplined, a characteristic of Manolo Marquez’s men. Five minutes were added for stoppages but they were not enough for the Gaurs, as HFC took away three points and reached the top of the table.
Hyderabad FC plays fellow top-four contenders Kerala Blasters FC in their next fixture at the Athletic Stadium on Wednesday whereas FC Goa will look to spoil Mumbai City FC’s quest for playoffs qualification at the same venue on Saturday.