Internet Desk: FC Goa were prevented from scoring a goal for the first time in this season of the Hero Indian Super League as they succumbed to their first home defeat at the hands of FC Pune City. After a goalless first period, the introduction of former Gaur, Jonatan Lucca gave the Stallions some impetus as they galloped to a 2-0 victory with goals from Emiliano Alfaro and Jonatan Lucca. For FC Goa, Ferran ‘Coro’ Corominas hit the post in the first half.
It was a bright start for the Gaurs who put the pressure on early in the hope of finding a quick lead. It was Brandon Fernandes who was presented with the first chance of the match after neat interplay with Ahmed Jahouh and Mandar Rao Dessai. The Goan winger’s shot however, was blocked. The home side continued to keep a hold of the ball as FC Pune City struggled to keep up with them. The Gaurs should have had the opener in the 12th minute though. A long ball forward found the head of Rafael Gomez whose defensive header almost wrong footed Vishal Kaith in goal. The keeper however, recovered well to parry. Coro picked up the loose ball and attempted to score from an acute angle but his shot came off the post much to the delight of the travelling Orange Army.
The away side began to get into the game as the half wore on. The Stallions launched a counter-attack in the 19th minute and should have taken the lead. Emiliano Alfaro won the ball in midfield and charged towards the opposition goal before playing Marcelinho through. The Brazilian then darted into the box and squared the ball for the Uruguayan striker who somehow missed a tap in. A couple of minutes later, Alfaro had another chance to score after he turned Bruno Pinheiro superbly and unleashed a left footed effort at Laxmikant Kattimani who made a good save to deny him.
Ahmed Jahouh was cautioned for a foul on Marcelinho midway through the half as Pune began to even out the lack of early momentum. As the half progressed, Goa continued to attack and could have been ahead in the 36th minute after Lanzarote fired in a ball across the box. However, Coro who made a near post run was unable to get healthy contact on it to divert it into the net. A minute later, Jahouh found Lanzarote in acres of space on the right with a peach of a long ball. The attacking midfielder ran into the box, cut a defender and fired a shot at Vishal who made another good save. The rebound was too high for Coro to head in. Both sides were creating chances but failed to put any of them away before the referee called time on the half
It was more of the same in the second period as the Gaurs looked to assert dominance. However, it was Pune who could have scored twice within the space of a minute through Marcelinho who was denied by a superb save from Kattimani and then a last ditch block by Ali Mohamed. Sergio Lobera made two substitutions early on in the second half as he brought of Jahouh and Narayan and brought on Pronay Halder and Manuel Arana. In the 60th minute, Edu Bedia played Manuel Lanzarote through with a great through ball but the Spaniard, in his attempt to shift the ball to his strong foot, lost control and the chance was gone. A few minutes later, Coro is played in once again but under pressure from defenders, lays the ball on to Arana on the right who is brought down but the referee denies the home team the penalty.
In the 68th minute, substitute Arana received the ball in midfield and played it to Coro who ran into the box and put in a low cross towards the far post. Brandon Fernandes got to the ball but was unable to beat the keeper who parried it towards Arana who continued his run into the box but hit a weak shot at Vishal. As the half continued, both sides looked for that elusive opening goal and it was a moment of quality that brought it. Substitute Jonatan Lucca received the ball in midfield and played it to the dangerous Marcelinho who took a few steps forward and threaded an inch prefect pass through the Goan defence to find Alfaro who made no mistake, finishing at the far post. The lead should have been doubled hardly a minute later after the Uruguayan found himself one on one with Kattimani. His shot beat the Goan goalkeeper but Pronay charged back to clear just before the ball could cross the line.
Lanzarote was withdrawn for Adrian Colunga in the 75th minute as Sergio looked to bring on fresh legs. A few minutes later, Coro set up Brandon just outside the area but the winger’s shot flew high over the post. Moments later, the Stallions doubled their lead. Lucca charged past Seriton on the left side of the box and laid it to Alfaro who turned and twisted but lost control of the ball as Mandar put pressure on him. However, Mandar’s clearance came off Alfaro and deflected to Lucca who was open in the box. The formed Gaur made no mistake tapping into an empty net. Lucca continued to make a nuisance of himself in the Gaur’s penalty box as time ticked on. The Gaurs pushed high up in order to grab a goal back and the Stallions counter-attacked with ease but were unable to net a third as the referee called for time on proceedings.