Bengaluru eliminates Goa with a thumping 3-1 victory 

A painful climax to Goa's ninth edition journey

A rollercoaster ride of the 2022-23 Indian Super League season comes to an end for Goa as they face elimination at the hands of Bengaluru in the final match for both sides of the league stage. 

The youngster Sivashakthi Narayanan‘s brace (6′ & 76’) and a late goal from the super-sub Pablo Perez graced the scoresheet to keep the Blues on the winning side of a 3-1 saga. Goa misses out on the playoffs qualification as Odisha gets the ticket despite losing the final league game. 

Goan gaffer Carlos Pena only made a single change in his starting eleven for the do-or-die clash by replacing the local lad Devendra Murgaonkar with Redeem Tlang. Dheeraj Singh retained himself in the lineup despite a rough patch while the likes of Aiban Dohling and Alvaro Vazquez still couldn’t make it to the Gaurs’ first eleven.  

On the other hand, the BFC side opted for a couple of changes to the Blues lineup and rested the central defender Sandesh Jhingan and Spanish playmaker Javi Hernandez for the last league game. The Fijian striker Roy Krishna also returned to the action with an aim to haunt the Uzzo opponents.  

The referee Harish Kundu blew the kick-off whistle at Sree Kanteerava Stadium in the Karnataka capital and the crushing battle between two high-profile combatants got underway. The Margao-based club turned up for the do-or-die clash donning traditional orange outfits while Bengaluru graced the home ground in all-blue kits. The home team wanted to take early advantage of favorable conditions and started making moves to get a maiden breakthrough. 

The first notable chance for the Blues came quite early on the clock when the Blues earned a corner kick however, a floating cross from Naorem Roshan Singh was trounced by the Goan goalie. 

Bengaluru knitted another attempt from a corner kick but this time, it got a perfect finish which eventually led them to break the deadlock. The opposition defense failed to mark the dangerman Sivashakthi Narayanan who headed the flying cross from Roshan to make it 1-0 in the 6th minute. 

The opening goal of the game made the West Block Blues go berserk and also dispersed a wake-up call to the visitors. Carlos Pena alarmed his forward line to find the equalizing goal at the earliest as the Goan offense was in a mood to waste no more time. 

Guarrotxena left no stone unturned to save the Gaurs from elimination

Guarrotxena left no stone unturned to save the Gaurs from elimination 

The diligent efforts of Goa finally got fruit when the 30-year-old Spaniard attacker Iker Guarrotxena levelled things up in the 33rd minute at Benglauru’s fortress. The second goal of the night was also a result of a positioning error marking the Moroccan magician Noah Sadaoui’s 17th and last goal contribution of the 2022-23 ISL season. 

Bengaluru’s dominating start and a solid bounce-back from the Gaurs was the summary of the first-half saga which consummated on a 1-1 scoreline. 

The second-half action commenced on a steady note where both combatants held neck-to-neck and were equally close to quest the steering lead. The scoreboard remained unaffected until the 76th minute when the Karnataka-based netted the first open-play goal of the night. The 22-year-old Tamizhan sensation, Sivashakthi once again brought his club to the commanding position. 

Just when the visitors were gathering themselves to stage another comeback through substitutions, Bengaluru ended up scoring yet another goal. The super-sub Pablo Perez who took the field replacing Sunil Chhetri in the 58th minute was the main protagonist in the course of doubling the lead. Roy Krishna did an exceptional job setting up a chance for the Spanish playmaker who finished it off with a curling strike in the 81st minute. 

Goa completely lost their rhythm from this moment and failed to find any breakthrough in the remaining time. Meanwhile, Bengaluru’s final attempt of the night somehow managed to outwit the Goan guardian but was later ruled out as offside and the play ended on the final scoreline of 3-1. 

The future of Indian football seems to be in safe hands!

The future of Indian football seems to be in safe hands! 

The foreign attackers carried the Goan roster throughout the season and also sustained it to doomsday however, lack of support from the other Gaurs led the Uzzo side to finish outside the Top 6. Sivashakthi Narayanan had a perfect day at work thoroughly dominating the opposition’s defense which was enough for him to claim the Hero of the Match honor.  

The 2019-20 ISL Shield winners have now failed to make it to the knockout round for consecutive seasons despite initially being considered favorites. Meanwhile, Bengaluru will be gearing up for the knockout game and is likely to be summoned by the Juggernauts if ATK Mohun Bagan loses their forthcoming Kolkata Derby clash.