FC Goa secure hard-fought win over Kerala Blasters to extend unbeaten run
Goa, December 3, 2023: At the end of a thrilling contest marked by end-to-end footballing action and several gripping moments, hosts FC Goa managed to secure a hard-fought 1-0 victory against Kerala Blasters at the Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Fatorda on Sunday.
With local boy Rowllin Borges scoring the only goal of the match, the Men in Orange registered what was their sixth win in seven matches this season against the Southerners, also extending the undefeated start to their league campaign.
Earlier in the day, Goa head coach Manolo Marquez made some big changes to his playing squad, as Victor Rodriguez returned to the starting XI in place of Carlos Martinez. Brandon Fernandes, meanwhile, was not available for selection, thereby paving the way for Raynier Fernandes to start on the left flank while Noah Sadaoui played up front.
The game then commenced with both teams displaying an astute eagerness to take the lead. Kerala Blasters’ Vibin Mohanan attempted an audacious shot from distance in the 7th minute, which was expertly collected by FC Goa’s goalkeeper Arshdeep Singh. The early moments of the clash also saw Kwame Peprah coming close for the visitors with a sprinting effort, but narrowly missing the target in a one-on-one situation with the ‘keeper.
FC Goa, eager to respond, showcased their attacking prowess as Noah Sadaoui’s impressive runs into the opponents’ box set up chances for Victor Rodriguez and Carl McHugh, before Rowllin Borges also had an attempt on goal from just over 20 yards out.
The breakthrough finally arrived in added time of the first half as the Nuvem-based midfielder capitalized on a Rodriguez free-kick, delivering a precise finish to put FC Goa ahead.
The second half witnessed Kerala Blasters pushing for an equalizer, with Mohammed Aimen and Dimitrios Diamantakos testing FC Goa’s defence in quick succession. Arshdeep Singh’s vigilant goalkeeping, however, denied any chance of a comeback for the visitors.
Despite the Yellow Army’s attempts to level the score, the hosts managed to hold their ground throughout this period, with Seriton Fernandes making a crucial clearance in the dying minutes of the game to ensure a slender victory for the hosts.
Following Sunday’s result, Manolo Marquez’s boys have reclaimed their position at the top of the table, with 19 points from seven matches. They will now return to action on December 12th for their next assignment, when they will lock horns against Mumbai City FC.