FC Goa came back strongly to hold Atlético de Kokata to a 1-1 draw in Match 5 of the Indian Super League (ISL) at the Fatorda Stadium in Goa, on Wednesday evening.
The Virat Kohli co-owned team took a point from the jaws of defeat as Keenan Almeida (82′) scored a stunner after Arata Izumi (13′) had given Atlético de Kokata the lead in a fiery tie that saw the sending off of Baljit Singh Sahni (62′).
FC Goa coach Zico started with an unchanged lineup while Atlético coach Antonio López Habas made three changes bringing in José Luis Espinosa Arroyo, Denzil Franco and Arata in place of Arnab Mondal, Rino Anto and Hélder Postiga.
It started off as a tight contest with FC Goa’s Mandar Rao Dessai forcing Denzil Franco to keep up to his pace on the left wing and Gregory Arnolin refused to get off the trail of Canadian international Iain Hume.
The home side created the first chance in the ninth minute when Reinaldo da Cruz Oliveira was only able to hit the side netting after Jofre Mateu Gonzalez lobbed a pass for him in the opponent’s box.
In the 13th minute, however, the visitors engaged a moment of silence as Arata fired in a volley off Javier ‘Javi’ Lara Grande’s cross from the right.
Léo Moura followed up with an attempt at goal in the 21st minute but the Brazilian’s shot was wide of the left post while minutes later Romeo Fernandes go so close to finding the far post from the right after dispossessing Borja Fernandez as Goa kept up the tempo.
In a long time, Kolkata had a chance wherein Javi Lara sent his free kick wide and on the other side FC Goa’s marquee player Lúcio decided to get into the attack himself and forced a save off goalkeeper Amrinder Singh around the half hour mark.
Reinaldo almost got his foot to Debabrata Roy’s deflected cross from the left but missed it dearly from handshaking distance in the 35th minute as Jofre and Moura kept the ball rolling in the center of the park.
While Lúcio was making some forward runs in the hunt for an equaliser, Mandar should have done better to find Romeo to his right in the center of the box, but the cross was too high for the latter.
Upon the teams’ return from the tunnel for the second half, Lúcio came agonisingly close to finding the target from Jofre’s free kick from the left but the FC Goa skipper’s header came off the upright.
Another opportunity beckoned Zico’s side in the 57th minute with Moura building up the move and Jofre releasing Reinaldo on the left. However, the Brazilian striker’s attempt narrowly missed the far corner.
Atlético de Kolkata were down to ten men as a result of a red card being flashed by referee Santosh Kumar to Baljit Singh Sahni’s head-butt on Arnolin in the 62nd minute.
There was a plethora of miscommunication to bring on a double substitution as goalkeeper Laxmikant Kattimani was brought in place of Elinton Andrade in order to keep at least five Indians on the pitch as Jonatan Lucca came in place of Denson Devadas.
Mandar then missed the far post from the left side in the 76th minute as the Gaurs kept chasing the Bengal Tigers for the illusive equaliser as Romeo made way for Victorino Fernandes.
Mandar and Jofre missed more chances as the Kolkata franchise were kept under pressure until Almeida eventually found the back of the net in the 82nd minute after Mandar’s cross in the box was headed down for the goal scorer.
FC Goa kept up the ante to find a late winner through the seven minutes of added time but a point was a well-deserved result that takes the Goan franchise’s tally to 4 points in two matches having to play Chennaiyin FC next on October 11, 2015 at home.