Goa bulldozes Chennaiyin 4-1 to march into the semi-final of the 2023 Durand Cup

Goa players celebrate after scoring a goal against Chennaiyin

Goa beat Chennaiyin 4-1 in the quarter-finals of Durand Cup 2023 at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati. Carl McHugh, Carlos Martinez, Noah Sadaoui, and Victor Rodriguez found the net for the Gaurs after the Marina Machans took an early lead.  

Goa took the field in a 4-2-3-1 formation with Dheeraj Singh guarding the sticks. Seriton Fernandes, Odei Onaindia, Sandesh Jhingan, and Saviour Gama formed the back four while Raynier Fernandes and Carl McHugh played as the defensive midfielders ahead of them. 

Udanta Singh, Brandon Fernandes, and Noah Sadaoui played as the three attacking midfielders with Noah and Udanta doubling up as wingers. Carlos Martinez was deployed as the lone striker for the Gaurs. 

Chennaiyin, too, took the field in a 4-2-3-1 formation with Owen Coyle entrusting the young Samik Mitra to guard the sticks. Sachu Siby, Sarthak Golui, Bikash Yumnam, and Aakash Sangwan were deployed as the four defenders with Cristian Battocchio and Ayush Adhikari playing as the two defensive midfielders. Farukh Choudhary, Connor Shields, and Rahim Ali played as the three attacking midfielders with captain Jordan Murray as the lone striker. 

Chennaiyin won a corner kick in the 5th minute and scored from the first set-piece of the match. Aakash floated a curling delivery from the dead ball situation and Yumnam nodded it home to stun the Gaurs. 

Goa nearly equalized five minutes later when Sadaoui set up Martinez and the latter struck the woodwork. It was one-way traffic from thereafter as Chennaiyin stayed on the back foot. Brandon found Martinez in the 13th minute, who in turn laid it off for Udanta at the right wing but the former Bengaluru striker failed to keep his shot on target. 

Goa eventually levelled the proceedings in the 30th minute through debutant Carl McHugh. Udanta crossed the ball for Noah in the left flank who laid it on a platter for the former Mohun Bagan midfielder. With an empty net in his sight, McHugh buried the ball into the net. Two minutes later, Udanta sent an aerial cross towards Noah whose header was inches wide. 

Sarthak Golui made his debut for Chennaiyin in a season-long loan deal from East Bengal

Udanta was once again called into action in the 37th minute when Goa scored their second goal. He crossed the ball towards Carlos Martinez whose initial shot was blocked by the Chennaiyin defense. However, in the rebound, he lobbed his shot over the head of the keeper to cross the goal line. 

Goa went into the break with a 2-1 lead as Chennaiyin had to redraw their plans in the tunnel. Chennaiyin started the second half on a bright note with the trio of Farukh, Murray, and Shields knocking on the Goa doors for a goal. All three of them missed opportunities to equalize as the Gaurs roared back strongly in the game. After the hour mark, it was all Goa with McHugh thwarting the attacks of Chennaiyin. 

In the 63rd minute, Brandon’s free-kick spelt danger with Jhingan at the end of it. However, the Indian international defender failed to get his head on time. Substitute Vincy Barretto broke free in a counter-attack in the 69th minute but failed to cross the ball timely in the final third for Chennaiyin. 

Substitute Jiteshwor Singh’s free-kick found Murray inside the box in the 72nd minute. But, Dheeraj came up with an acrobatic save to deny Chennaiyin the equalizer. Ayush tried to set up Conor Shields in the 79th minute but Dheeraj came out of his line to intercept the danger. 

Aakash Sangwan went for glory a minute later from a free-kick outside the box. Although his shot was on target, Dheeraj punched it away as he found himself in action in the latter stages of the match. 

The referee added six minutes into the clock as Chennaiyin upped their ante to find the equalizer. However, it was Goa who delivered the knockout blow in the first minute of added time when McHugh floated a ball towards Noah. The Moroccan chested the ball to control it inside the box and slammed it home. 

Victor Martinez put the icing on the cake after combining with fellow substitute Boris Singh in the third minute of additional time. Boris found Victor on the counter-attack and the latter beat his marker Jiteshwor to free up space for himself. With only the keeper in his sight, Victor bulged the net to make it 4-1 for Goa. The referee blew the full-time whistle soon as the match ended in favor of the Gaurs. 

With the win, Goa booked their quarter-final tickets where they would either face Mumbai City or Mohun Bagan Super Giant. The match will take place at the Yuva Bharati Krirangan Stadium in Kolkata on Thursday. 

For Owen Coyle’s Chennaiyin, it marks an end to their Durand Cup 2023 sojourn. They will have to improve their performances in the defense in the current season of ISL as Goa found plenty of gaps tonight.