FC Goa defeated Spanish side Cartagena FC 3-2 at the La Manga Club in Murcia, Spain late last night. Having taken a three-goal advantage through a brace from Coro and a goal from new signing Jackichand Singh, the Indian Super League (ISL) side allowed Cartagena to claw their way back into the game for a tense finish. The Gaurs, however, held on to their lead to make it three wins on the trot in their pre-season.
The ISL outfit began proceedings in their usual swashbuckling style by dominating the play. They moved the ball around well with crisp passing and maintained majority of the possession. A few minutes into the game they created their first real opportunity when Jackichand’s cross found Edu Bedia. Unfortunately, the Spaniard could not connect well as the Cartagena goalkeeper saved his tame effort.
The Gaurs continued to create numerous opportunities, and took a much-deserved lead in the 18th minute of the game. Edu Bedia’s exquisite through ball found Jackichand who was clean through on goal. The Manipuri rounded the keeper and coolly placed the ball into the Cartagena net.
Soon after his goal, Jackichand had a wonderful opportunity to double the Gaurs’ advantage as he was found by Coro’s pass, but unfortunately the former Kerala Blasters winger failed to convert the opportunity of the follow-up after the initial effort was saved by the keeper.
FC Goa continued to dominate the game creating plenty of opportunities, but failed to increase their lead. Then, in the 42nd minute, Coro finally got the breakthrough as he latched on to a beautifully weighted pass by Ahmed Jahouh over the Cartagena defensive line to smartly chip the ball over the keeper into the back of the net.
The second half began in the same manner as the first half, as the Gaurs continued to dominate the play. In the 55th minute, Hugo Boumous intercepted a pass and played the ball to Mandar Rao Dessai on the wing. Mandar then combined well with new signing Miguel Palanca, whose attempt at goal rebounded off the keeper into Coro’s path, who was on hand to slot the ball home to give the Gaurs a 3-0 lead.
The Goan side continued to play well, but failed to create any real opportunities. Cartagena were able to reduce the deficit to two goals in the 71st minute with a 25-yard screamer. The Gaurs lost their composure during this passage of play as Cartagena kept pressing hard. Nirmal Chhetri gave away a penalty in the 81st minute as the Spanish side converted their spot kick.
With the score at 3-2, Cartagena pressed hard to equalize and created a number of opportunities, but the Gaurs’ defense stood strong without conceding another goal. In the 88th minute, former Bengaluru FC keeper Ralte made a wonderful save to his left to deny Cartagena an equalizer.
At the end, the Goan side managed to hold on to their slender advantage to make it three wins from three in Spain as their pre-season looks to be shaping up well. The Gaurs will hope to build on their performances and continue this momentum till they travel to Guwahati on 1st October for their first ISL game of the season.
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