Goa comes from behind to hold spirited Jamshedpur to a 2-2 draw
Iker Guarrotxena bagged a brace, including a late equaliser after Ishan Pandita’s strike and an own goal from Guarrotxena had the home side in the driving seat. In the reverse fixture earlier this season, Carlos Pena’s side had prevailed 3-0.
Instead, it was Aidy Boothroyd’s side who began on a bright note and they tested the Gaurs early on with a couple of half chances. Boris Singh Thangjam showed great control and pace right from the start to beat the opposition defenders on a couple of occasions but lacked the final ball.
Rafael Crivellaro also looked threatening but there was a lack of understanding between the Men of Steel as the players weren’t on the same wavelength.
In the 20th minute, they finally clicked as Crivellaro fed Daniel Chima Chukwu who collected the ball with his back towards the goal, but turned inside and unleashed an effort which was well kept out by Dheeraj Singh. Shortly after, Crivellaro again combined with his striker, on a counter-attack, the former East Bengal forward cut inside and took aim again but the Goan custodian was equal to it.
Near the half-hour mark, the visitors defended a free kick from Edu Bedia, and launched a counterattack, with the ball being fed to Pandita whose crack at goal was well saved by Dheeraj.
The early persistence from Boothroyd’s men as they bagged another goal from a set piece. Crivellaro was again at the heart of it, with his corner being met by Jay-Emmanuel Thomas who buried a thumping header past the goalie to give his side the lead.
On its way past Dheeraj, the ball grazed off Guarrotxena, and thus it was given an own goal. In the 37th minute, Pena’s men got their equaliser totally against the run of play. Guarrotxena redeemed himself by scoring at the right end, he started the move, and then he got on the end of a sublime cross from Makan Chote and a textbook downward header from the Spaniard brought his side back to level pegging.
It was the second goal in as many games from the creative midfielder and the visitors finally got back in the contest after a poor start. After 2 minutes of added time, the referee blew his whistle to signal the end of an entertaining first half.
Boothroyd’s men began the second half also on a bright note as they took the lead once again barely five minutes after the restart. Pandita bagged his second goal of the season after a rare blunder from the visitors’ defence.
Aibanbha Dohling’s backpass to Dheeraj didn’t have enough weight on the ball, and as the custodian came out to clear, he had his pocket picked by an onrushing Pandita who then finished into an empty net.
In the 53rd minute, the Gaurs had a huge shout for a penalty turned down as Brandon got on the end of a through pass after intricate play from Pena’s men, but the Indian international went down too easily inside the box and the referee wasn’t interested at all.
The Men of Steel had another golden opportunity to further extend their lead as Pandita got on the end of a sublime ball from Chukwu, the former set up Crivellaro but the Brazilian’s effort at goal was cleared on the line by Sanson Pereira. Near the 70th-minute mark, the visitors tried to shift the momentum slightly as they upped the ante in search of an equaliser.
Noah Sadaoui failed to dazzle as he did in the past matches, but he had a great opportunity to get his side back in the contest as the forward latched onto a defence-piercing pass from Brandon but Vishal Yadav had read the danger and came out just in the nick of time to deny the Moroccan.
On the other end, Pandita received a good through ball as he bore down on the goal but his left-footed effort on goal was again well saved by Dheeraj. Similar to the first half, Pena’s men showed great determination as they equalised with Guarrotxena completing his brace. The Men of Steel failed to clear their lines as an onrushing Iker reacted the quickest and beat Vishal at his near post.
Six minutes were added on and the visitors smelled blood as piled pressure onto Boothroyd’s side. Late into the added time, Emmanuel Thomas put in a couple of last-ditch clearances to somehow keep his side in the contest and preserve the solitary point.
Despite the late flurry from Pena’s side, they failed to get the winning goal as the hosts somehow held on for a draw. In the end, the points were shared and it was a thoroughly entertaining affair. The Goan outfit climbed to fourth place after earning a point, while the home side remained second-bottom.
Next up, Brandon and Co travel to Salt Lake to take on ATK Mohun Bagan on Wednesday, while the club backed by TATA Steel are scheduled to travel to Kochi to take on Kerala Blasters after the turn of the year.