FC Goa put three goals past a lacklustre Chennaiyin defence at the Marina Arena on Saturday. Edu Bedia, Ferran Corominas and Mourtada Fall scored for the Gaurs while Eli Sabia picked up a consolation goal right at the end of a 3-1 win.
Anirudh Thapa partnered Germanpreet Singh in midfield for John Gregory’s side. Gregory Nelson, Francisco Fernandez and Raphael Augusto provided support for Jeje Lalpekhlua up front.
Edu Bedia’s return to first-team duty served as a welcome boost for Sergio Lobera. He partnered Lenny Rodrigues and Ahmed Jahouh in midfield. Corominas lead the 4-3-3 formation with Mandar Rao Dessai playing at left-back. Young goalie Mohamad Nawaz kept his place in between the sticks.
The visitors were on the front foot in the early stages of the match. John Gregory’s men found it difficult to hold on to the ball and their opponents passed the ball around at will in dangerous areas.
FC Goa’s dominance paid off in the 12th minute. Hugo Boumous played a short corner into the feet of Lenny Rodrigues who did well to dribble towards the byline. The Indian midfielder produced a cut-back that was slotted into the bottom right corner of the net by Edu Bedia.
The Gaurs won the battle in midfield as Anirudh Thapa and Germanpreet Singh were left frustrated, having had to chase the ball around. In a rare foray forward, Thapa had the chance to get his team back into the game with a shot from the edge of the box but his effort flew over the bar.
The pace of the game slowed down as the half progressed and it allowed Chennaiyin FC to take a breather and regroup. A stop-start period after the half-hour mark slowly swung the pendulum in Chennaiyin’s favour. Gregory Nelson threatened the Gaurs defence twice in the same period but both the forward could test young Nawaz.
The Marina Machans seemed to have gained confidence from the way the first half ended and looked to attack after the restart. But their joy was short-lived courtesy of sloppy defending on the left flank.
A throw-in by Boumous found an overlapping Seriton Fernandes who delivered an inch-perfect for Corominas to score his third goal of the season. Gregory Nelson and Jerry Lalrinzuala were caught watching the ball and not the runner. The rest of the defence was oblivious to Corominas’ surge into the box.
Jeje Lalpekhlua, who failed to threaten the Goan defence, was replaced by Isaac Vanmalsawma with 20 minutes left on the clock. New signing Carlos Salom was also brought on in place of full-back Calderon.
The hosts improved on the ball after the restart but struggled with their final ball and finishing in the final third of the field. Nelson and Augusto both threatened the Gaurs’ backline but missed the goal.
Despite losing their tempo, FC Goa struck their third goal in the 80th minute. Ahmed Jahouh’s cross into the box was flicked on by Corominas with his head. Mourtada Fall sent a looping header into the corner of the net, out of Karanjit Singh’s reach.
Eli Sabia headed an Andrea Orlandi corner into the net in added time but it was nothing more than a consolation for the hosts.
With two wins out of two games, the Gaurs are off to a promising start and have climbed to the top of the table.