FC Goa became the first team to guarantee themselves a Place in the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2019-20 semi-finals with a 4-1 win over Hyderabad FC in the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Goa on Wednesday.
Currently, at the peak of the table with 33 points from 16 matches, the Gaurs will finish in the top four if they wind up losing their remaining two games in the league stage.
The first major chance of the game fell Goa’s way in the 7th minute as Ferran Corominas found himself at the end of a Jackichand Singh cross but Laxmikant Kattimani made himself big to deny that the Spaniard. Jacki, in particular, continued to be a menace down the right-hand side, constantly extending the Hyderabad backline.
The ball dropped to Mandar Rao Dessai out the Hyderabad box after a corner. The Goa skipper’s scuffed shot towards goal was controlled well by Hugo Boumous, who made no errors and stabbed it beyond Kattimani to make it 1-0.
The Brazilian managed to guide his cushioned volley goalwards but sadly, found the woodwork in his manner.
Goa, meanwhile, continued to create dangerous opportunities and came close to doubling their lead around the half-hour mark. The low shot had Kattimani conquer but came out after hitting the post.
The home team could have placed a substantial distance between them and their opponents by the time the half time whistle sounded, but it wasn’t to be as the likes of Seriton Fernandes and Jacki missed countless opportunities to expand Goa’s lead. The first half finished with Goa resulting from the solitary objective.
The Frenchman picked up the ball, drove past a few Hyderabad defenders into the box and then discharged his shot into the bottom corner to provide Goa the cushion objective.
The two-goal gap, however, lasted only 14 minutes. Marcelo fired in a free kick from outside the box to decrease the deficit back to just one goal in the 64th minute.
Four minutes later, the home side restored their two-goal benefit. Boumous turned supplier this time because he threaded a through ball for Corominas. The Spaniard put his shot beyond Kattimani to make the scoreline 3-1.
Goa took full control of the game after their third goal, denying Hyderabad some significant ownership of the ball. The Gaurs even added to their tally late in the match from a penalty. Kattimani’s rash challenge on Coro prompted the referee to point towards the place and the Spaniard stepped up to convert the opportunity to make it 4-1.