The fourth edition of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) finally got plenty of goals as FC Goa put it across Chennaiyin FC 3-2 in their opening round clash at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Chennai, on Sunday.
After two goalless draws, the Hero ISL got off to a five-goal fest with FC Goa racing away to a 3-0 lead in the first half. Ferran Corominas started it all with a counter-attacking goal in the 26th minute before Manuel Lazarote made it 2-0 three minutes later. Before the teams marched inside their dressing rooms for the half-time break, FC Goa had time for another goal as Mandar Rao Desai became the first Indian to score in this edition of the Hero ISL.
It seemed like it was all over for Chennaiyin FC but the hosts fought their way back with two late goals in the second session. Inigo Calderon scored from a free-kick in the 70th minute and Raphael Augusto converted a penalty with six minutes left on the clock. Goa, however, held on to walk away with full points.
Chennaiyin FC had, in fact, started promisingly and enjoyed possession but couldn’t rattle the rival goal. There were a couple of moves but nobody to connect the final pass.
FC Goa were patient with their build-ups and finally managed to catch an impatient Chennaiyin FC on the counter. A corner from Chennaiyin FC first gave them an opportunity and the visitors pounced on the opportunity as Brandon Fernandes started the move and Corominas finished it, despite a desperate lunge from Dhanachandra Singh.
FC Goa increased their lead three minutes later from another counter-attack. This time, Chennaiyin FC goalkeeper Karanjit Singh tried to keep his team in the game with two double saves to deny Corominas and Mandar in quick succession but Lazarote came up with an ice-cool finish as he calmly lobbed the ball inside the goal.
There was time for another FC Goa goal in the first session. In the 39th minute, Lazarote turned provider as he set up the ball for Mandar, who made no mistake from close range to hammer the ball past Karanjit.
In the second session, Chennaiyin FC coach John Gregory changed to a back-three formation and it seemed to give the hosts an instant edge. Jeje Lalpekhlua immediately struck the upright and then substitute Gregory Nelson also saw his attempt bounce back after hitting the goalpost in a one-on-one situation.
Chennaiyin finally pulled a goal back from Calderon’s free-kick which Goa goalkeeper Laxmikant Kattimani spilled over. It set the tone for a fightback. Raphael converted a penalty in the 84th minute but despite their best efforts, an equaliser remained elusive for Chennaiyin.
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