Three late goals from Mumbai City stun Goa in a 3-2 loss in the Semi-Final first leg

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Goa lost to Mumbai City 3-2 at home in the first leg of the semi-final

Goa and Mumbai City played out a 2-2 draw in the first leg of the second semi-final of the 2023-24 Indian Super League season. The enthralling fixture was played at the Fatorda Stadium in the heart of Goa and Boris Singh and Brandon Fernandes were on the scoresheet for the hosts while Lallianzula Chhangte scored for the visitors.

Goa head coach Manolo Marquez made two changes to the team that defeated Chennaiyin 2-1 in the knockout fixture as Borja Herrera and Seriton Fernandes replaced Carlos Martinez and Rowllin Borges in the starting XI.

On the other hand, Mumbai City head coach Petr Kratky made three changes to the starting XI that took the field in the 2-1 defeat to Mohun Bagan Super Ginat in the Shield decider. Bipin Singh, Jorge Pereyra Diaz, and the injured Alberto Noguera made way for Vikram Partap Singh, Jakub Vojtus, and Thaer Krouma.

In the fourth minute of the match, Mohammed Yasir had the first shot of the match from the edge of the area but Rahul Bheke did well and blocked the shot to prevent any early danger. In the build-up of that move, Akash Mishra went down in a heap and was taken off in the 12th minute as Valpuia was introduced in the first forced substitution of the evening.

Playing Seriton at right-back instead of Boris proved to be a masterstroke as the right-back was dominating Vikram who was the target of every ball from the Mumbai City midfield in the early phase, especially Yoell van Nieff.

The first big chance of the match came in the 16th minute and the Gaurs made sure they pounced on the opportunity. Carl McHugh found Yasir wide on the left and the former Hyderabad forward controlled the ball and cut in brilliantly past Mehtab Singh to find Boris who darted into the right position to score his 7th ISL goal with three of those coming against Mumbai City.

In the 22nd minute, Rahul Bheke fired wide from a corner and the Gaurs should have been more wary of leaving the man who dashed their ISL title hopes in the 2018-19 season unmarked on the edge of the six-yard area.

Four minutes later, the Islanders got close to Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem once again as Lallianzuala Chhangte and Apuia exchanged a one-two pass before the winger teed up Krouma but his shot was blocked.

Chhangte once again got the ball past the Goa defenders as a short free-kick routine was worked perfectly and the forward found Bheke with a pin-point pass but the former Bengaluru defender headed wide once again. Unfortunately, Yasir was injured in the groin area while trying to defend that set-piece routine and was replaced by Udanta Singh at the half-hour mark.

In the 36th minute, Hereera was sent through on goal by skipper Brandon Fernandes but the Spaniard completely mishit the ball out for a goal kick. Five minutes later, van Nieff was booked for a mistimed stamp on substitute Udanta’s foot and the referee also booked Kratky for his outrage against the decision.

Despite seven added minutes, the Gaurs successfully thwarted all attacks from the visitors forcing the Mumbai City midfielders to release the ball faster than they are used to in the league. In the fifth minute of added time, Jay Gupta’s throw saw Noah Sadaoui turn and fire the ball towards the bottom left corner but missed the target by a whisker.

The score remained 1-0 at the half-time break and the Islanders started on the front foot in the second half and Mehtab’s long-range effort was straight at Dheeraj in the 48th minute. In an altercation between Noah and Bheke, the Moroccan swung his arms at the Islanders skipper and was booked for the offence.

In the 51st minute, Vikram finally ran past Seriton for the first time in the match but Odei ensured that all gates were closed at the back. Three minutes later, a pathetic attempt to play out from the back from Phurba Lachenpa landed the ball at Udanta’s feet and the former Bengaluru forward’s long-range shot was somehow saved by the Islanders’ goalkeeper.

Brandon Fernandes is hell-bent on breaking the ISL trophy drought in Goa

Mumbai City’s poor defending was finally punished in the 56th minute as Brandon was given acres of space and the Gaurs’ skipper cut in on his right foot and placed the ball in the top right corner from the edge of the penalty area.

At the hour-mark, Marquez then made his first set of changes on the evening introducing Martinez and Borges in place of Boris and Herrera in the hope of settling the tie. In response, Kratky introduced Bipin and Jayesh Rane in place of Vojtus and Mehtab a couple of minutes later.

In the 74th minute, Marquez was also shown a yellow card for protesting for a booking when Fernandes was brought down in the middle of the park. Three minutes later, Brandon found Martinez but the Spaniard’s shot was a bit high for the Gaurs’ liking. 

Seconds after the restart post-drinks break, Lachenpa brought out the best save of the evening to keep his side in the game for the second leg. Martinez’s cross for Noah was cleared till Udanta who found Carl McHugh in the middle of the penalty area but the Irishman was denied by the Mumbai City goalkeeper.

Jayesh was also booked by the referee for bringing down Odei Onaindia a minute later as the proceedings rolled on towards the finish line in Margao. Gurkirat Singh and Sanjeev Stalin replaced van Nieff and Tiri in the dying minutes as Kratky was desperate to pull a goal back.

In the absence of overseas attacking stars, Chhangte rose to the occasion once again as Jayesh’s incisive through ball found the Mizo forward who went around Dheeraj to make it 2-1. 

In injury time, Gurkirat ran forward with ambitions and his shot was thwarted away by Dheeraj but Vikram was in the right place to equalize for the Islanders.

When everybody thought that the second leg at the Mumbai Football Arena on Monday would resume at 2-2, Rane took another heroic forward run and found Chhangte whose powerful rocketed shot whizzed past Dheeraj and made the scoreline 3-2 in favor of the visitors.

After the fixture ended, Marquez was furious with his players for conceding three goals in the space of seven minutes to throw away the advantage.The Gaurs’ head coach said,

“My feeling is that we played the best game in the competition, till we conceded. Then we showed why we are not the champions of the Shield. We conceded three goals in 8 minutes against Kerala, 3 against Punjab and 3 today.”