A 10-man FC Goa battled past Bengaluru FC 2-1 to notch up its second win of the Indian Super League season and climb up to seventh, at the Bambolim Stadium on Saturday.
With a contest locked at 1-1, BFC had almost half-an-hour – until Suresh Wangjam was sent off for a second yellow card in the 84th minute – to make the one-man advantage count and stem the run of four winless games, but it didn’t.
In the 55th minute, Jorge Ortiz was sent off for a violent reaction towards Wangjam after being fouled. But in the 70th minute, a wonderfully worked set-piece ended with Goa defender Ivan Gonzalez knocking the ball down into the path of an unmarked Devendra Murgaonkar, who took a touch and calmly slotted the ball home past Gurpreet Singh Sandhu.
At the start of the match though, it was all FC Goa, pressing with vigour and launching multiple waves of attack. The pacy Ortiz terrorised the BFC defence and often left the centre-back duo of Alan Costa and Pratik Chowdhary short of breath.
The pressure finally told in the 16th minute with Ashique Kuruniyan scoring an own goal – his second of the season. Murgaonkar drove down the left flank and fired in a low shot, which Gurpreet only managed to parry away weakly. The lurking Ortiz tried to get a touch but it went in off Kuruniyan.
A minute later, a flowing team move from BFC ended with Sunil Chhetri, in a miss emblematic of his wretched season thus far, blazing his shot over the bar from five yards out with both the goal and the goalkeeper at his mercy. It was Chhetri’s 100th appearance in the ISL and he would have liked to remember it better.
But at the stroke of half-time, the Goa defence came unstuck. Cleiton Silva’s free-kick from the left flank swerved wickedly, beat the flapping hands of a hapless, out-of-position Dheeraj Singh and went in off the far post.
Prince Ibara’s introduction after the break made BFC dangerous, as the towering forward held the ball up well, routinely beat defenders and won headers. But after taking the lead, Juan Ferrando’s men ran down the clock and managed the game superbly.
The Goan goal was threatened late on twice, albeit from a distance. But Gonzalez and Dylan Fox came up with vital blocks to keep out shots from substitute N. Sivasakthi.
The result: FC Goa 2 (Kuruniyan (OG) 16, Murgaonkar 70) bt Bengaluru FC 1 (Silva 45).