FC Goa played like a team possessed from the very start. The league stage of the 2015 Hero Indian Super League has been memorable for them in many ways. They registered the biggest win in the history of the Hero ISL when they thrashed Mumbai City FC 7-0. They qualified for the semis with a 5-1 win against Kerala Blasters FC in their penultimate game of the league stage and then in their last match they came back from two goals down to beat Delhi Dynamos FC and cement the top spot in the standings. Only on two occasions they probably looked a bit rattled, following a 4-0 loss each against Chennaiyin FC (early into the season) and defending champions Atlético de Kolkata (in the business end of the league stage). This is Zico’s men’s second straight semi-final appearance and they will vie with Delhi for a berth in the final. Let’s check out how they reached the semis.
Vs Delhi Dynamos FC on October 4: FC Goa kicked off their campaign with a 2-0 win against Delhi Dynamos FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Fatorda. Mandar Rao Dessai and Reinaldo struck goals in a match that saw the Gaurs completely dominate Roberto Carlos’ men.
Vs Atlético de Kolkata on October 7: The Gaurs took on Antonio Lopez Habas’ side in a match touted as the ‘El Clasico of the Hero ISL’. The match lived up to its billing as both teams fought neck-and-neck in a 1-1 draw. Defender Keenan Almeida’s late strike cancelled out Arata Izumi’s 13th-minute effort for Kolkata.
Vs Chennaiyin FC on October 11: It was a forgettable day for Zico’s men as they received their first thumping of the league stage and that too at home. The Fatorda Stadium was witness to FC Goa’s 0-4 rout by Marco Materazzi’s men. Colombian striker Stiven Mendoza netted his first hat-trick of the season with ace playmaker Elano also chipping in with one.
Vs Kerala Blasters On October 22: Zico’s men continued their victorious run when they hosted Kerala Blasters FC in Fatorda. Goa struck twice through Leo Moura and Gregory Arnolin to nullify Mohammed Rafi’s solitary effort. It was their fourth win out of their first five matches.
Vs Mumbai City FC on October 25: Highflying Goans went into the match at the DY Patil Stadium as the favourites but were brought down a peg or two by Nicolas Anelka’s men. Goals by Sunil Chhetri and Frederic Piquionne either side of the break saw the Gaurs suffer their first away defeat of the season.
Vs FC Pune City on October 30: A tightly-contested face-off came to pass when Goa hosted the Stallions in Fatorda. The final scoreline read 1-1 after Eugeneson Lyngdoh’s goal in the 64th minute for Pune erased team-mate Roger Johnson’s own goal earlier in the first half.
Vs Chennaiyin FC on November 5: Revenge was on the Gaurs’ minds when they travelled to Chennai and they got that, thanks to successful penalties taken by Leo Moura and Jonatan Lucca late into the game. The Gaurs registered their first win in three matches.
Vs FC Pune City on November 8: The second match between these two teams turned out to be as gripping as the first one and ended in a 2-2 draw. Eugeneson Lyngdoh opened the scoring for Pune before Rafael Coelho and Jonatan Lucca’s strikes nullified his efforts. Marquee player Adrian Mutu then rose to the occasion by netting a crucial one for the Stallions in the 90th minute.
Vs Mumbai City FC on November 17: The fans were in for a pleasant surprise as they saw their home team take on Mumbai at Fatorda. The game witnessed the biggest victory in the history of the league as hat-tricks from rookie Thongkhosiem Haokip and seasoned sniper Dudu Omagbemi helped the Gaurs to a 7-0 win. Brazilian forward Reinaldo scored the last goal of the game, minutes from the final whistle.
Vs Atlético de Kolkata on November 22: Zico got a taste of his own medicine as Antonio Lopez Habas and his Kolkata side handed Goa a 4-0 defeat. The visitors went goalless as Iain Hume and Borja Fernandez with a goal each and Sameegh Doutie with a double helped ATK thump the Gaurs at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata.
Vs NorthEast United FC on November 25: Reinaldo’s late effort in the 80th-minute denied NorthEast United FC full three points at Fatorda. Victor Mendy had put the Highlanders ahead in the 55th minute and just when it looked like that Cesar Farias’ men will register a crucial victory, Reinaldo saved his team’s blushes.
Vs Kerala Blasters FC on November 29: Having featured in a tough contest not long ago, one would have expected Goa to lose steam against hosts Kerala. But a 5-1 rout of the hosts, thanks to goals by Joffre, Mandar Rao Dessai and a hat-trick for Reinaldo, beggared belief as Zico’s brigade safely cemented a place in the semis. Victor Pulga sure drew first blood in the second minute for Kerala but their joy proved to be short-lived.
Vs Delhi Dynamos FC, December 6: In their last league stage of the game, FC Goa registered a great comeback win. When Delhi went into the break leading 2-0, it looked like the Gaurs were in for a hammering. However, Zico’s men turned the tables big time in the second half and through two goals from Romeo Fernandes and one for Joffre upstaged the home team and cemented the top spot for Goa in the standings.
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