FC Goa took the ISL playoffs to a penalty shootout on Monday…
Mumbai City needed 89 minutes to register their first shot on target in the second leg of the Indian Super League (ISL) semi-final on Monday. Yet the Islanders head coach Sergio Lobera made his first substitution of the two-legged contest nearly after the completion of 180 minutes of football.
There was an air of confidence about Mumbai City going into the contest, based on how they had performed during the league stage campaign and ended it at the top of the standings. But the Gaurs gave them a more difficult fight than anyone expected them to and matched them for skill and talent on the field over the two legs. The tie was far from being a one-way affair.
Juan Ferrando’s men impressed with their performance in the second leg, following a good first leg show that ended in a 2-2 result. It must be noted that Mumbai City were guilty of spurning chances in the first leg. For most of the second leg, it was Goa that threatened to break the deadlock and take the lead but the goal never came due to the inability to deliver a killer pass in the final third.
Lobera returned to the tried-and-tester combination of having Hernan Santana in the defence and fielding Adam Le Fondre as a lone striker upfront. However, Goa’s Alberto Noguera, Edu Bedia and Glan Martin had firm control over the proceedings and prevented quick turnovers and easy defence-splitting through-balls through the centre of the park.
Hugo Boumous, who turned up at different areas of the pitch to influence the game, was well marked and it seemed like Goa had it all figured out. Noguera and Bedia had shots on goal that nearly crept in at the bottom corner but a save from Amrinder Singh and a crucial goal-saving block by Amey Ranawade denied the Gaurs in the first half.
Amrinder was called into action twice soon after the restart to keep out two powerful strikes from Saviour Gama. Ishan Pandita, who was brought on at the start of the second half for a change, nearly pulled off another impactful super-sub appearance after his diving header from a cross from the right flank was headed straight at the keeper.
Towards the end of the game, after it became evident that the tie had become Goa’s to lose, James Donachie missed an easy header from an Edu Bedia delivery into the box and allowed the game to progress to extra-time.
As extra-time drew to a close, both coaches had one more surprise up their sleeves before the decisive shoot-pout event – a change of keepers. Naveen Kumar replaced Dheeraj Singh just before the time ended and Phurba Lachenpa replaced a furious-looking and in-form Amrinder Singh after the full-time whistle.
Lachenpa was under pressure to put up a decent show and the former Shillong Lajong custodian remained extremely calm during the proceedings. Glan Martins missed his spot-kick and Rowllin Borges converted his penalty to send the Islanders into the final.
0 – #MumbaiCityFC have failed to land a single shot on target at the end of first half in the #MCFCFCG match, the fourth instance this #ISL season for the Islanders and second against @FCGoaOfficial this campaign. Disappointing.#HeroISL #LetsFootball pic.twitter.com/DJm6KkOQnL
— OptaJeev (@OptaJeev) March 8, 2021
This was by no means one of their best displays or a performance Lobera will be proud of, in terms of how effective their football was. However, at the end of the day, it is the results that matter. The keepers played their part, the defence did their job and the rest of the team stepped up at the right time to book the team’s first ticket to an ISL final.