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

FC Goa blast their way into semis with a 5-1 win over Kerala Blasters

ISL: Kerala Blasters FC v FC Goa - Léo Moura in action

FC Goa defeated Kerala Blasters FC 5-1 in an 2015 Indian Super League (ISL) clash at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi, Kerala, on Sunday evening. The win also confirmed Goa’s spot in the last four for the second consecutive time.

The Blasters’ second minute lead scored by Victor Herrero Forcada was annulled by Jofre Mateu Gonzalez in the 12th minute. FC Goa had their third hat-trick hero in Reinaldo da Cruz Oliveira (29’, 50’, 61’) while Mandar Rao Dessai (64’) joined the party to ensure a comfortable win. The home team had to play the second half with 10 men following the sending off of Josu Carrias.

Terry Phelan had three changes in the Kerala side’s first eleven from the one that drew 1-1 with Mumbai City FC. Steven Bywater, Peter Carvalho and Mohammed Rafi replaced Sandip Nandy, Joao Coimbra and Mehtab Hossain.

Zico too made three changes from his starting lineup that won a point against NorthEast United FC. Debabrata Roy, Pronay Halder and Jofre came in place of Raju Gaikwad, Dudu Omagbemi and Victorino Fernandes.

The game started on the wrong foot for the Goans as Forcada scored early on as he lobbed the ball wide on the right to Antonio German who cut past Mandar Rao Dessai and put it back for the Spaniard to blast into the nets.

In the counter, Mandar almost found Reinaldo ahead of Stephen Bywater with a cross from the left but the Kerala goalkeeper held on neatly.

FC Goa soon got back in the game when Reinaldo side footed a Pronay Halder cross from the right standing in between Deepak Mandal and Peter Ramage to release Jofre who sweetly chipped the ball above Bywater to score the equaliser.

Progressing into the match, German kept pressurising and had the visiting team’s defense on their toes to scramble away a clearance off one of his runs in the 19th minute, while FC Goa continually surged into the attack until they took the lead in the 29th minute.

The move was initiated by Moura with a diagonal pass to Mandar on the left wing to receive it back at the edge of the box. The number 10 served a delightful through ball on the platter for Reinaldo who calmly placed the ball across the goal line.

The end of the first half was preceded by a straight red card to Currias for the Kerala player’s retaliation to a challenge from Jofre.

Five minutes in the second half, the Gaurs were celebrating once again. Jofre pushed the ball on the left wing for Mandar and the latter put an incisive cross towards Reinaldo who could not miss from inside the six yards area.

Being a man down, Kerala did not hold back and in the 53rd minute, Forcada took a return pass from German but his attempt on goal was tipped over by FC Goa goalkeeper Laxmikant Kattimani.

Then came the fourth and fifth goals for the visitors in the 61st and 64th minutes respectively as Reinaldo and Mandar converted their chances assisted by CS Sabeeth and Moura with the moves initiated by Jofre and Reinaldo.

In the 83rd minute, Kattimani had to make sure his side did not concede another goal as the custodian held on to Ramage’s header off a free-kick taken by Hossain who had replaced Carvalho.

Goa’s changes saw Bikramjit Singh, Romeo Fernandes and Denson Devadas brought on to replace Sabeeth, Moura and Jofre, all in the second half.

Courtesy of the 5-1 win, which is the biggest away victory so far recorded in the ISL, FC Goa moved second with 22 points from 13 games while Kerala Blasters stay rooted at the bottom of the standings with 12 points from as many fixtures.