ISL: FC Goa set up semifinal clash with Mumbai City

FC Goa
FC Goa players celebrate a goal. Photo: FSDL/ISL

Margao: FC Goa qualified for the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 semifinals by defeating Chennaiyin FC 2-1 in their playoffs fixture at the Fatorda Stadium here on Saturday. The Gaurs will square off against Mumbai City FC across two legs in their last-four clash.

While Goa's first goal by Noah Sadaoui was a product of a proper team effort, the other one by Brandon Fernandes was one of the most sensational solo strikes of the season.

Noah had primarily played through the left flank for most of this season, but it seemed that Manolo Marquez had handed him a more free-flowing responsibility in this match. When the Gaurs broke the deadlock in the 36th minute, Noah was functioning through the right flank. He collected the ball, passed it on to Boris Singh beside him. Boris played the ball to Brandon inside the box, before it went to Carl McHugh. There was a tough tussle to win the challenge between both the sides at that point but Noah picked it up and hammered it into the back of the net to notch the opener and open the floodgates for an immersive next 10 minutes.

Brandon, who was a critical component of the first strike, scored the second one by coming deep near the half-way mark and collecting a pass by Jay Gupta from the left flank. Brandon dropped a shoulder as his piercing pace helped him beat Chennaiyin midfielder Jiteshwor Singh who chased him right till the edge of the box. Brandon sensed that it was his moment of reckoning though, and hence opted against engaging in any sort of build-up and decided to deposit the ball right into the top of the net in the 45th minute.

Chennaiyin clawed back slightly into the game, all thanks to their centre-back duo of Ryan Edwards and Lazar Cirkovic. Aakash Sangawan delivered a corner to Edwards on the far post in the added time of the first half, who headed it straight to FC Goa goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh. The custodian got a palm to the shot but couldn’t stop it completely, leading to Cirkovic scoring from the rebound from a very close range. Whilst the Marina Machans banked on their aerial prowess to try and make a contest out of this playoff, it was Marquez & Co. that eventually prevailed.

(With inputs from ISL Media)

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