ISL 2022-23: FC Goa blazes past Kerala Blasters to rise to the 5th spot
ISL 2022-23: Matchday 16 concluded on Sunday, with FC Goa pushing past Kerala Blasters to win 3-1 and surging past Odisha FC to reach fifth place, staying firmly in the playoffs contention.
FC Goa (FCG) had some relaxation in the playoffs race after nailing critical three points against Kerala Blasters (KBFC) in the 2022-23 Indian Super League (ISL) at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Goa on Sunday. Goals from Iker Guarrotxena, Noah Sadaoui, and Redeem Tlang supported the Gaurs to end their four-game winless streak in the ISL as they hopped over Odisha FC (OFC) to fifth, going four points adrift of former champion Bengaluru FC (BFC) in seventh. Meanwhile, the Blasters suffered straight drubbings in the ISL for the first time since October. Devendra Murgaonkar made his first season start, replacing Tlang in the XI. For the visitors, Harmanjot Khabra and Jessel Carneiro dropped to the bench, while Nishu Kumar and Sandeep Singh replaced the two defenders. Also, Saurav Mandal superseded the suspended Rahul KP on the right flank.
In the opening half-hour, KBFC could not test the keeper while its shot-stopper Prabhsukhan Gill was pushed into making a hermit save. Moments after the 30-minute mark, Brandon Fernandes earned a penalty after contact with Mandal in the box. Guarrotxena went down the middle to slice from the spot kick for his seventh season goal. The goal put the hosts ahead and was also the 150th ISL goal slashed by Goa at the Fatorda Stadium.
Ten minutes before the break, Gill flew out of his penalty box to get to the ball first, but Sadaoui flicked it past him before noticing his shot thwarted by Ruivah Hormipam. The Moroccan attained his goal three minutes later after pouncing on a poor Sandeep Singh pass, beating Hormipam, and opening up his body to place it past Gill, doubling the hosts’ advantage.
Having gone numerous goals down in the opening half for the second successive game, KBFC was out with purpose, and Dimitrios Diamantakos was the man to get on the sheet in the 51st. Adrian Luna was the inventor, whipping a free kick from the left that saw the Greek striker head the ball from close range.
But Goa assembled the assertive touch to humiliate the Blasters in the 69th. Brandon maintained the ball on the counter as Sadaoui made a patsy run to draw the defenders away, opening up space for Tlang on the right. The reserve strode into the box and propelled it past Gill breaching his far post.
Ten minutes later, a binding goal-line clearance from Sanson Pereira declined Nihal Sudeesh’s maiden club goal, keeping the two-goal benefit unchanged. Eight minutes were added at the end of regulation time, during which the Blasters groped forward, failing to form anything influential, suffering their second consecutive thrashing.
After weeks of see-sawing between OFC and FCG, the Gaurs finally returned to fifth place. They will likely extend this edge when they host East Bengal (EBFC) on Thursday. KBFC remains in third place, ten points behind defending champion Hyderabad FC (HFC) and just one ahead of ATK Mohun Bagan (ATKMB) in the fourth. They will host NorthEast United (NEUFC) next on Sunday.