FC Goa looked fairly unstoppable when the 2017-18 season of Indian Super League (ISL) commenced. Coach Sergio Lobera’s tactics felt a breath of fresh air for Indian football with both fans and pundits going gaga.
They were touted as early contenders for the title after pocketing four games off the first five matches. However, things didn’t go quite as well for them then, since they could manage to win only two out of their next 10 fixtures last year. The worst part is that a similar situation could crop up for the Gaurs this season.
On Tuesday, Goa fell to a disappointing 0-2 defeat at the hands of a desperate FC Pune City side who have struggled to form themselves. While the win will probably work as a motivator for one team, it will be a wake-up call for the others.
The Stallions were least bothered about the thought of keeping the ball. Instead, they were much focused on ways to utilize the space behind the Goan defence.
The interesting contest saw both the sides enjoy substantial chances in which to score, including several efforts that hit the crossbar. However, it was Marcelinho who came up with the defining moment of the match when he scored a stunning strike from outside the box to hand Pune the lead.
Having conceded an early goal, Goa pressed harder in the search of an equaliser but to no avail. Naturally, the frustration levels of the visitors grew and culminated when Muhammad Ali fouled Marko Stankovic deep in the injury time in the box. Much to the dismay of FC Goa, the referee pointed straight to the penalty spot which was cool-mindedly converted by Pune City.
Pune was a different side yesterday and the one with a plan. They absorbed pressure from the Goan side and utilized a perfect counter-attacking game. This led to an impatience among the visitors, leading to the second goal.
They vehemently marked Ferran Corominas and limited his movement in the penalty box. This indeed helped in nullifying the lethal Goa attack. Not that Corominas is their only attacking threat that the team has, it is only that the Spanish striker is the focal point of any attack of his team. He is one of the big reasons why Goa are the league’s highest scorers this season.
A sense of deja vu would probably be felt by Goa, who had gone winless after exactly after 10 matches last season. However, the one thing that works in their favour this time is that the league table is not as strong as it was last season.