THE BLOG BY CPD FOOTBALL | The World of Indian football and beyond by Chris Punnakkattu Daniel

FC Goa remain afloat in the top half with a draw against FC Pune City

ISL: FC Goa v FC Pune City
ISL: FC Goa v FC Pune City

Photo courtesy: FC Goa

FC Goa were held to a 1-1 draw by FC Pune City in an Indian Super League (ISL) Season 2 match played at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Fatorda, Margao, Goa, on Friday evening.

An own goal scored by John Johnson (46’) was cancelled by Eugeneson Lyngdoh in the 64th minute as the league leaders registered their first away win of the season.

Zico made as many as six changes to his starting line-up with marquee player Lucio handed the captain’s armband while Romeo Fernandes and Mandar Rao Dessai returned to the first 11. Joaquim Abranches made his FC Goa debut alongside Thongkhosiem Haokip. Elinton Andrade took his place in between the sticks.

Goalkeeper Laxmikant Kattimani, Narayan Das, Raju Gaikwad, Pronay Halder started on the bench with Victorino Fernandes injured and Darryl Duffy to miss the rest of the season.

FC Pune City’s coach David Platt made three changes to his team with Johnson, Ravanan Dharmaraj and Lenny Rodrigues coming in place of Gurjinder Singh, Pritam Kotal and Diego Colotto.

Leo Moura, who was once again the craftsman in the middle of the park for the Goans, dissected a wonderful through ball to Haokip in the 10th minute. The Manipuri slid the ball beyond onrushing Pune goalkeeper Steven Simonsen but it was cleared just ahead of the line by Johnson.

Kalu Uche shot the first chance for the visitors wide in the 15th minute as Rodrigues combined well with Tuncay Sanli on the right channel and 10 minute later, Mandar almost found the back of the net on the other side after dancing past Rodrigues. The left winger’s shot with his weaker foot came off the crossbar.

Moura’s continued with his magnificent antics in the midfield and released Romeo on the right, but the latter wasn’t able to control the ball in the six yards area in the 27th minute.

Jonatan Lucca, set up by Moura, followed up with a shot fired wide while Gregory Arnolin headed wide off a corner taken by Lucca around the half hour mark before Haokip forced a save from Simonsen.

Following Andrade’s punch to Eugeneson Lyngdoh’s corner in the 37th minute, Uche attempted a back heel after a mistimed shot by Bikash Jairu. However, the Goan defense had that covered.

Gouramangi Moirangthem headed wide Nicholas Shorey’s free-kick in the additional time of the first half for the score line to read 0-0 going into the break.

The second half began on the right note for FC Goa as Romeo smashed in Lucca’s cross from the left and Johnson could do nothing about that as the Pune defender’s attempted clearance landed in the back of his own net.

Uche almost got the equaliser a couple of minutes later. Rodrigues released Jairu on the left flank and the latter’s cross was chested down by the Pune striker for himself, but the Nigerian’s shot came off the upright.

Simonsen then pulled off three saves in quick succession to deny Mandar’s stiff left footer off Moura’s pass in the 58th minute before denying Luciano Sobrosa twice from two resultant corners.

A small portion of the Orange Army came alive in the stands in the 64th minute when a cross from the right from Wesley Verhoek, who replaced Sanli, resulted in Eugeneson’s header from an unmarked position landing in the far corner. 1-1.

Lucca’s free kick in the 68th minute, after a dangerous tackle from behind on Moura by Zokora, hit the side netting while the offender was allowed to let go by referee Pratap Singh.

Another free header was allowed to meet one of Verhoek’s crosses but the same steered above the mark by Uche while there was no one to meet Mandar’s cross from the left on the other side before the latter was replaced by Narayan Das.

Jackichand Singh, who replaced Jairu, was beginning to cause Goa some problems on the left side including one of his crosses that required Andrade to stretch out a leg to block Rodrigues’ shot on goal in the 80th minute.

Zico’s men had to be content with a point as FC Goa went one better from fourth to third in the standings with 11 points from seven matches while FC Pune City stay still in pole position with 13 points from as many outings.