Goa wins 2-1 after late heroics from Edu Bedia to sucker punch East Bengal￼
The visitors walked home with all three points in the bag after they edged the Red and Golds 2-1, courtesy of a late strike from skipper Edu Bedia. While the Gaurs were playing their first-ever game in ISL 2022-23, East Bengal had played in the inaugural match of the ongoing season in Kochi against Kerala Blasters and it was the hosts who had prevailed 3-1.
The Red and Golds welcomed Goa at the Salt Lake Stadium as they played their first-ever game in ISL in Kolkata after two years of playing at neutral venues in the Goan state.
Coach Stephen Constantine’s tactics were questioned after their most recent defeat and he responded by giving debuts to Jerry Lalrinzuala and Jordan O’Doherty. However, despite his troubles, the Englishman could not prevent his side from going down just seven minutes after kick-off.
Goa’s star striker Alvaro Vazquez played his skipper Brandon Fernandes through on goal although Ivan Gonzalez, looked like he would mop up the danger, he completely miscued his effort and Brandon ended up punishing his opposite number who was playing against his former club for the first time.
That was just a sign of things to come as the Gaurs continued to pile the pressure on the home side. Constantine’s decision to deploy Sumeet Passi didn’t pay dividends as the visitors toyed down his flank without much resistance.
Brandon nearly turned provider shortly after as he collected a neat flick pass from Vazquez and crossed in for Redeem Tlang who somehow fluffed his effort with the goal gaping.
Near the half-hour mark, the hosts had a penalty shout turned down by the referee as Cleiton Silva was brought down near the edge of the box, however, the official gave just a free-kick and the striker did test Dheeraj Singh in goal but there was no way through for the Red and Golds.
Carlos Pena’s men continued to dominate as Vazquez latched onto a long ball and forced Kamaljit Singh into a save, and they also came close from the resulting corner, but Constantine’s side survived to fight another day.
Goa had a slender 1-0 lead as the referee blew for half-time. Seeing his side trail, the former India gaffer decided to shake things up as he made two changes, with Sarthak Golui replacing Passi, and Naorem Singh coming in for Tuhin Das.
It was a dramatic start to the second half as well, with an early shout for a penalty from the visitors after a coming together between Sarthik and Brandon but the referee thought otherwise.
Shortly before the hour mark, the home side registered their best effort as VP Suhair ran halfway across the pitch with the ball at his feet and he fed Jordan whose attempted volley went over the crossbar. And a couple of minutes later, the club from the City of Joy were level after a marauding run from Jerry down the left flank.
He played a teasing through pass to Suhair who was scythed down to the grass by Dheeraj and the referee had qualms before pointing to the spot. Up stepped Cleiton and dispatched the spot-kick with ease to bring his side on even terms. It was a much-improved display from East Bengal after the break but just the final ball eluded them.
As the match entered the closing stages, both teams looked stretched. Iker Guarrotxena proved to be a handful for the home side as he kept Constantine’s side busy. The Spaniard won a free-kick five minutes before the end of regulation time but Edu Bedia’s effort sailed over the crossbar.
Both coaches made changes in personnel as they went for the kill and there was late drama as the Red and Golds were undone after they were unable to deal with a free-kick from Bedia. Deep into the stoppage time, the 33-year-old delivered a sumptuous curler from 40-yards which somehow crept into the goal for the winning goal, thereby clinching all three points, and the Salt Lake crowd was stunned.
With the win, Goa climbed to fourth place in the league standings and will play their second match of the season against Chennaiyin next Friday. Constantine’s men remained rock bottom, still waiting for their first points with two matches played and now face NorthEast United next Thursday.