FC Goa scored once, early in the first half, and it was enough to leave new entrants Punjab FC sucking their thumb in the home team’s first match of Indian Super League (ISL) 10 at the Nehru Stadium, Fatorda, on Monday.
To start off the league with three points is definitely advantageous to the team, but FC Goa will regret the missed chances against an opponent that stuttered, showed occasional bursts of positive football and recorded their second consecutive defeat.
FC Goa’s dominance was evident after the first ten minutes of play where the game see-sawed with hosts FC Goa resorting to a traditional approach and visitors Punjab FC attempting to slide through with some sleek play.
Noah Sadaoui had some chances to score and land his team in a comfortable position but after he missed his first easy chance in the eighth minute, it led to a long story of missed chances. He missed one, two, and three and as the match wore on, it turned obvious that he was not going to score.
FC Goa scored the only goal of the night when the game was 17 minutes old through Carlos Martinez who latched on to a Raynier Fernandes through ball to fox Punjab FC goalkeeper Kiran Limbu.
Limbu was the lime that left a sour taste on FC Goa with his saves throughout the game. The Punjab FC keeper shone with his anticipation and reflexes and made his job under the bar look simple.
Punjab FC had one good chance to draw parity in the 36th minute of the first session when Juan Gonzalez had his shot parried off by FC Goa keeper Arshdeep Singh and then there was a flutter of hits and misses in the box before the ball was cleared to safety.
FC Goa switched from the 4-4-2 and 4-3-3 formation with Noah and Carlos Martinez waiting to pounce on opportunities to score with captain Brandon Fernandes and Udanta Singh playing wide.
However, both teams opted to breach each other’s defence by opting for the through ball, thus making football devoid of many oohs and aahs. Carl Mchugh tried to orchestrate play for FC Goa and his was a success story.
If the first half had few thrills, the second saw even less action. Punjab FC tried to make dents into their rival goal but whenever they did, the novice in them surfaced.
Punjab FC coach Staikos Vergetis brought in defender Dimitrios for midfielder Juan Gonzalez at the hour mark and the change made it difficult for FC Goa as the latter stubbed most attacks.
Manolo, on his part, brought in Rowllin Borges, Devendra Murgaonkar, Boris Singh Thangjam and Victor Romero and despite clear domination, the team could not go beyond missed opportunities.
Substitute Victor had a crack at the Punjab FC goal during added minutes of extra time of the second half but, once again, could not get past Punjab’s Limbu who came up with an acrobatic save – the best of the evening.
FC Goa finished play with three points and a lot of questions, whilst Punjab FC returns with their second loss and a lot to think about transition of football.