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ISL 2020-21: Super-sub Brandon orchestrates a sensational comeback for FC Goa

FC Goa
Picture Source: ISL’s Twitter handle

When Goa and Bengaluru faced off in the final a couple of years ago, it was mildly a dull affair but both sides have plenty to give in their respective season opener this time. Bengaluru seemed to have one hand on the three points before Goa pulled things back quite quickly, resulting in sides settling for a stalemate.

The game started with Goa trying to work their way patiently whilst Gurpreet Singh tried to find his forwards with some well connected long balls. Ashique Kuruniyan troubled the Goan defense with some smart combination and individual play, but the young wing-back couldn’t make anything spectacular happen.

Sunil Chetri looked a little out of touch and took his time to get in the game. Just when it seemed like this game would pan out the way the first two ISL games did, Harmanjot Khabra’s smartly worked throw-in was lobbed into the path of Cleiton Silva, who headed the ball clinically to establish a lead for the 2019 champions.

Also Read: ISL 2020-21: Five Indian youngsters to watch out for

The only threat Goa posed was through a couple of setpieces, besides which Juan Ferrando’s side lacked the creative touch to penetrate through a back-three which maintained great discipline throughout the first half. The first 45 brought no joy to the home side, and some serious pep-talk was needed to restore parity in the game.

The best half of Football this season

Definitely too soon to say as we’ve only seen 6 halves of football this season, but the second half in this game was as entertaining as one could’ve asked for. There were many moments in the early on in the game when the men in blue nearly provided goal-scoring chances with their aerial football. But the best bit of that came in the 57th minute, in a move that started with a cross from the left from Ashique, followed by a little ping-pong from Deshorn Brown and Paartalu before Juanan stormed home a second for Bengaluru.

Goa’s most prolific creative player last season, Brandon Fernandes, did not start on the day and came in just as a sub just before Juanan’s goal. He made an instant impact on the game, making his attacking options work a little more through some well-times passes. His constant questioning of the opposition’s defensive prowess got Goa their first goal, with Noguera diverting one of his passes into the path of Angulo, who found the net through an acute angle.

Goan spirit was high again and it didn’t take long for them to get back on level terms. Once again, it was Brandon Fernandes who provided a telling pass to Jesuraj, whose cross was chested in inadvertantly by Angulo and it took Goa three minutes to get these two goals. The Indian number 10 wasted no time to prove his coach wrong to not start him, stretching the game wide open for an exciting last 20 minutes.

Mendoza had a long shot saved well by the outstretched long arms of Gurpreet, which was pretty much the last meaning action in front of the goal besides all the high-octane running and defending from both units. There wasn’t much seperating both sides and a draw seemed a fair result, but Goa did have some great chances to get another, fluffed only by some misplaced passes.

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