Carlos Martinez’s brace helps Goa defeat weakened Hyderabad 2-0
Goa head coach Manolo Marquez Roca made three changes to their last playing XI in the ISL, where they drew 1-1 against NorthEast United. Narayan Das replaced the injured Sandesh Jhingan at the heart of the defense, while further up, Ayush Dev Chhetri and Boris Singh Thangjam replaced Raynier Fernandes and Udanta Singh respectively.
On the other hand, there were changes everywhere on the pitch for Hyderabad, with the majority of their players leaving for greener pastures during difficult times for the club.
Nikhil Poojary, Chinglensana Singh, Nim Dorjee Tamang, Sahil Tavora, Mohammad Yasir, Petteri Pennanen, Joe Knowles, and Jonathan Moya all played in Hyderabad’s last league game, but they have since left the club while Laxmikant Kattimani was benched in favor of Gurmeet Singh.
With the gulf in class between the two teams being huge, it was always expected that Goa would dominate from the first minute and they did exactly that. In just the second minute, Noah Sadaoui rattled the side netting with a powerful shot. Then just two minutes later, a Brandon Fernandes cross found Carl McHugh inside the box, whose header was blocked by a player in yellow.
The first major chance came in the 4th minute itself. After receiving a pass from the left flank, Martinez tried to show his trickery by flicking it to Brandon’s path, who struck his attempt straight at Gurmeet Singh under the Nizams’ goals.
But the Gaurs did not have to wait long for the goal, which eventually came in the 7th minute. A corner from Brandon was initially cleared away but it fell back to the attacker, who then launched a delightful cross to find Martinez and the striker did well to jump the highest, guiding his header past a helpless Gurmeet.
Only four minutes later, Sadaoui darted down the left flank and struck a powerful attempt, which rattled the crossbar but did not change the scoreline. Then in the 13th minute, left-back Jay Gupta received a pass from Chhetri at the edge of the box and launched a powerful shot, which unfortunately was directed straight at Gurmeet too.
The Gaurs kept peppering the Hyderabad goal with one attempt after another as Brandon tried to get his name on the scoresheet in the 14th minute, while Sadaoui got into the act once again in the 25th minute. While the former had his attempt saved by Gurmeet, the latter did not have the clinical edge to keep his attempt on target.
The continuous attacks finally paid off in the 30th minute, as Goa scored their insurance goal. Gupta found himself at the edge of the box yet again, but instead of going for glory himself, he decided to be selfless on this occasion. The left-back picked out a delightful pass for Martinez, and all the former Hercules striker had to do was beat his marker and guide the ball into the back of the net.
Hyderabad’s first chance of the game came in the 34th minute, but it was a chance from where they should have scored. Winger Abdul Rabeeh, who is coming into the league on the back of an impressive Super Cup campaign, put on the afterburners down the right flank and sold Gupta for all his worth before putting in an inch-perfect grounded cross for Aaren D’Silva, who could not get the desired connection on the ball.
D’Silva was handed another golden opportunity on a platter in the 56th minute of the game. Once again, it was Rabeeh who darted down the right flank and sold not one, but two Goa players with a dummy. The cross for D’Silva was perfect once again, but the shot was not on target.
Thangboi Singto’s men were comparatively better in the second half, but that did not change the scoreline. In the 59th minute, a cross from Mark Zothanpuia found Hyderabad’s lone foreigner, Joao Victor in space inside the box. However, the skipper could not guide his loopy header on target.
That was all about the Nizams’ resurgence, as Goa soon regained control of the game. Martinez went for his hat-trick in the 69th minute but did not have the precision that he had in the first two goals.
Then in the 77th minute, winter acquisition Borja Herrera, who comes into the Gaurs’ set-up after having just won the Kalinga Super Cup trophy with East Bengal, tried his luck from distance. Unfortunately for him, a goal on debut was not meant to be.
Former Hyderabad winger Mohammed Yasir was brought on as a substitute and could have scored in the 83rd minute, but he blazed his shot over the bar. The last chance of the game fell once again to Herrera in the dying stages of the game, but the scoreline remained 2-0.
With this victory, Goa has once again dethroned Kerala Blasters from the top of the standings. The Gaurs are now placed first with 27 points in 11 games, and they will take on Odisha next Friday. Meanwhile, Hyderabad remains at rock bottom of the league standings with just 4 points in 12 games and faces Odisha on Monday after a short turnaround.