Goa’s playoff hopes diminish after a 1-2 defeat against Chennaiyin

Kwame Karikari scored both of Chennaiyin’s goals

Goa jeopardized their playoff hopes with their second consecutive defeat in the 2022-23 Indian Super League season, as they were handed a 1-2 defeat by Chennaiyin at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai. Kwame Karikari scored a brace for the Marina Machans, while the Gaurs’ lone goal was scored by Noah Sadaoui.

After a 3-5 defeat against Mumbai City in the last match, Goa head coach Carlos Pena made one change to his starting XI. The everpresent Sanson Pereira got the axe and in his place, Saviour Gama was handed a start in the left-back position.

On the other head, Chennaiyin head coach Thomas Brdaric made three changes to his team despite beating East Bengal 2-0 in their last fixture. Vafa Hakhamaneshi, Jiteshwor Singh, and Rahim Ali were handed starts, with Gurmukh Singh, Ajith Kumar, and Nasser El Khayati making way for them.

Goa had the better start to the game and had their first chance in the seventh minute from a free-kick. Edu Bedia did well to keep his attempt on target, but it was saved by the Chennaiyin custodian, Samik Mitra.

Completely against the run of play, the visitors scored the opening goal of the match in the 10th minute. After snatching possession in midfield, Julius Duker played a defense-splitting through ball on the left flank for Vincy Barretto. The winger then made a cut back for Kwame Karikari, who guided his shot past the Goa goalkeeper, Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem.

Goa upped the ante after going down and had a good chance in the 23rd minute. From yet another freekick, Brandon Fernandes tried his luck but was denied by Mitra. The rebound fell for Bedia, but he could not guide his header on target.

The next few minutes saw the Gaurs piling up the pressure, but it resulted in nothing as the Chennaiyin defense remained rock solid. Just before the lemon break, a corner found Anwar Ali unmarked inside the box. The centre-back did well to get a volley in, but Fallou Diagne made a fantastic clearance to maintain the Marina Machans’ one-goal lead.

Noah Sadaoui’s strike went in vain

Noah Sadaoui’s strike went in vain

Like the first half, Goa had the better start to the second half, but the only difference was that they did score this time around. Bedia played a brilliant lobbed pass for Sadaoui which caught Brdaric’s defense napping, and with only Mitra to beat, the Moroccan striker did well to keep his shot on target.

Chennaiyin did fall back into their defensive shell after getting the lead, but since the equalizer, they too started playing an attacking brand of football. It ultimately proved to be a successful strategy, as they got their lead back in the 73rd minute.

Having created a goal for the Gaurs, Bedia now returned the favour to Chennaiyin as he under-hit a back pass which found the opposition skipper, Anirudh Thapa one-on-one with Dheeraj. Thapa did well to round past the keeper but was then tackled by Dheeraj, resulting in a penalty. From 12 yards out, Karikari made no mistake in making the scoreline 2-1 for Chennaiyin.

Following the theme, the Gaurs once again went all guns blazing after going down, but could not create many clear-cut chances. With nothing happening, full-back Aibanbha Dohling attempted a long ranger in the 84th minute, but it was directed straight at Mitra.

The last chance of the game came in the 91st minute. Right-back Seriton Fernandes found himself in space down the right flank, with four players in orange waiting for a cross inside the box. There was nothing wrong with his delivery as it went into a dangerous region and was not cleared off by any of Brdaric’s defenders, but Mitra came to the Marina Machans’ rescue once again as he parried the ball to safety.

Despite the defeat, Goa is holding on to the sixth place for the time being, with 27 points from 19 matches. Their last league stage match is against Bengaluru on Thursday, while Chennaiyin, who remains eighth with 24 points from 19 matches, will end their season with a match against NorthEast United next Friday.