Goals from Jhingan and Rodriguez propels Goa to a 2-1 comeback win against East Bengal
Goa players celebrate after Sandesh Jhingan scores an equalizer for them
Goa extended their winning streak to three matches in the 2023-24 Indian Super League season as Manolo Marquez’s side came from behind to stage a second-half comeback and win the encounter 2-1 against East Bengal at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar.
Marquez was forced to make one change from the win against Odisha as Noah Sadoui got injured in the warm-up session and Victor Rodriguez took his place in the starting line-up.
On the other hand, Carles Cuadrat oversaw two changes as Mohammad Rakip replaced Nishu Kumar while Javier Siverio took the place of Borja Herrera in East Bengal’s starting XI that lost 1-2 to Bengaluru.
The Gaurs had the first opportunity of the game when Seriton Fernandes’ cross from the right flank was not dealt with properly by East Bengal defenders. The loose ball fell towards Brandon Fernandes at the edge of the box but his curling shot dipped too late in the 16th minute. A minute later, Victor let loose a shot from a distance but it didn’t have enough power to trouble Prabhsukhan.
In the 28th minute, East Bengal tried to take a lead through Nandhakumar Sekar who cut the ball towards Cleiton. The Brazilian laid it on for Saul Crespo but he couldn’t keep his shot goalbound.
Goa came agonizingly close to scoring in the 33rd minute. Brandon’s cross from the left flank found Carlos Martinez’s head in the box but his stooping header struck the woodwork before going out of play.
Two minutes later, Naorem Mahesh Singh burst forward on the left flank before his low shot was connected by Cleiton Silva. However, his volley was not timed properly as the ball ballooned into the night sky.
The deadlock was finally broken in the 40th minute by Mahesh. Nandhakumar Sekar laid off a pass at the edge of the box and Mahesh slammed it home at the top corner with his right foot.
In the dying embers of the first half, Sekar had acres of space in front of him in the right flank before laying it off for Cleiton inside the box. The Brazilian unselfishly played it towards Javier Siverio but the Spaniard failed to pull the trigger and East Bengal went into the tunnel with their noses upfront as they had a slim 1-0 advantage at half-time.
The Gaurs started the second half on the ascendancy with Udanta Singh cutting back a beautiful ball for Rowllin Borges but the substitute’s shot sailed over the crossbar.
Fellow substitute Borja Herrera clipped Brandon from behind in the 51st minute and that spelt the end of the Goa captain for the day. The injury forced the Gaurs skipper to be stretchered out of action as it remains to be seen how long it takes for him to recover with Boris Singh coming on from the bench.
In the 59th minute, Jay Gupta found himself acres of space outside the box and attempted a shot from distance but his shot was inches above the crossbar. Goa finally equalized the proceedings in the 74th minute when Victor curled his free-kick towards the box and Jhingan rose the highest as he glanced his header towards the far post after towering over his marker Herrera.
One minute later, Harmanjot Khabra was dispossessed by the Goa defense and the ball was fed towards Carlos Martinez in the final third. The Spaniard chipped the ball over Jose Pardo’s head as it found Victor inside the box. Victor slammed the ball towards the far post with his first touch and goalkeeper Prabhsukhan was found helpless on the occasion with the ball finding the back of the net.
Goa’s next shot on target came in the 81st minute when Boris squeezed through the middle. But, his final shot was a tame one as it went straight into the hands of Gill. In the 87th minute, Boris released Udanta but the latter opted to cross the ball rather than take a shot which proved to be a poor decision as East Bengal defenders cleared their lines.
East Bengal were pushed to their own half in the final fifteen minutes of play as Goa held their lines perfectly and looked threatening to break on the counter. Despite being a goal down, East Bengal rarely looked to threaten apart from the set-pieces.
With Mohun Bagan Super Giant not in action next week, Goa would be hoping to go to the top of the league standings with a win against Bengaluru on Wednesday at the Kantaveera Stadium in the capital city of Karnataka.
On the other hand, Cuadrat’s men will be taking a long break to regroup and face Kerala Blasters at home on 4th November after the Kolkata Derby was postponed due to Durga Puja celebrations.