FC Goa sent out a strong message about their title aspirations this season as they thumped a hapless Chennaiyin FC 3-0 in the first gameweek of the Indian Super League (ISL). The Gaurs looked insatiable from the go as goals from Carlos Pena, Ferran Corominas and Seiminlen Doungel sealed the deal. Chennaiyin, on the other hand, looked like they are still suffering from the hangover of their dismal performance last season, when they finished at the bottom of the table.
The game started with a brisk face but FC Goa, who started with as many as eight Indian players, soon took the initiative. Backed by the home support, Jackichand Singh and Seimilen Doungel made repeated forays into the Chennaiyin half but to no avail. In the 19th minute, however, Corominas found Doungel with a deft through ball but some smart keeping from Chennaiyin’s goalie Vishal Kaith thwarted the attempt.
The attempt somewhat jolted the away side to life as only two minutes later, Eli Sabia’s header ricocheted off the Goa goalpost. Lallianzuala Chhangte came close soon after, but his effort was saved by FC Goa’s goalkeeper Mohammad Nawaz. FC Goa seized the initiative once again and this time, they were finally rewarded with a goal in the 30th minute. Doungel was found in space by Manvir Singh in the box and the debutant made no mistake this time around as he gave his side a well-deserved lead. The game continued in a similar ebb and flow fashion and at half time, the scoreboard read FC Goa 1-0 Chennaiyin FC.
Post the break, Anirudh Thapa was subbed in for Ganesh in the Chennaiyin midfield but in reality, it had little or no effect on the proceedings. Ferran Corominas, FC Goa’s talismanic marksman opened his account for the season in the 62nd minute when a cross from the excellent Jackichand Singh helped him make it 2-0 for FC Goa.
With the game almost done by this point, Chhangte was the only one who seemed like he had anything to offer for Chennaiyin going forward. Jackichand missed a golden chance in the 75th minute to make it 3-0 for the Gaurs, but they did not have to wait long for that to happen. In the 81st minute, Carlos Pena tapped in a Brandon Fernandes free-kick to complete the triumph for the Orange Army.
While Sergio Lobera will be delighted at his side’s comprehensive victory, John Gregory will have a lot to ponder after the game. Lobera’s Goa look every bit the side that made it to the finals last year and won the Super Cup as well, they look as if they have unfinished business this year but the Marina Machans looked as lackluster as ever. With the next set of games coming thick and fast, it will be interesting to see how Chennaiyin recover from this damning loss.