Kochi: FC Goa entered the knock-out round of the ongoing Indian Super League after an resounding 5-1 win over Kerala Blasters at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi on Sunday eveing.
Reinaldo’s hat-trick (29′, 50′ & 61′) and a goal each from Jofre Mateu (12′) and Mandar Rao Dessai (64′) proved to be enough for Goa to script a rather convincing win after Kerala have taken a early lead through Victor Pulga (20′), in a game where they played the entire second-half with 10-man after Josu Currais was sent off seconds before the interval.
The hosts made an emphatic start of the proceedings by taking the lead within just two minutes when Antonio German delivered a inch perfect low cross from the line for Pulga, who vollyed it home to give his side a early lead.
However, the joy didn’t last long for the home fans as Goa responded with Jofre, who capitalized from Reinaldo’s cross to put Goa on level in the 12th minute.
Thereafter, Goa made some decent moves upfront to put the Kerala defense under pressure. The visitors were rewarded for their efforts when Reinaldo put them ahead in the 29th minute. Brazilian playmaker Leo Moura played the ball for his fellow countryman who finished it into the back of the net with cool head.
Kerala, also had their moments through out the half, the hosts looked dengeraous whenever the ball was on either Pulga or German’s feet but led by Lucio and Gregory Arnolin the Goa defense was at their best thawrting each of Kerala’s attack.
Meanwhile, the half ended on a bitter note for Kerala as seconds before the half-time whiste Josu got his marching orders from Sri Lankan referee Dilan Perera for an altercation with Joffre.
Goa took full advantage of the situation and virtually finished off the game within five minutes into the second-half when Reinaldo netted his second of the evening in the 50th minute. Mandar was provider of the goal with a low cross that Reinaldo converted with a powerful shot from inside to put his team 3-1 ahead.
The Brazilian completed his hat-trick at the hour mark after Jofre delivered the ball for C S Sabeeth into space who to crossed it inside for Reinaldo to make it 4-1 for Goa in the 61th minute. In doing so Reinaldo became third FC Goa player to score hat-trick in the season. Three minutes later it was Mandar’s turn to get his name on the score-sheet from a Leo Moura pass.
In the remainder of the half Goa had several chances to increase their advantage but to their credit the Terry Phelan coached Kerala side defended deep into their own half to deny further blushes.
The win did not only took FC Goa into the last four where they joined Atletico de Kolkata and Delhi Dynamos with 22 points, but it also marks the end of Kerala Blasters’ campaign in the second season of ISL. Though they still have a game left to play against Delhi Dynamos but now that’s became nothing but formality for the Sachin Tendulkar co-owned side.
MOM: Reinaldo (FC Goa)
Kerala Blasters XI: Stephen Bywater (GK), Peter Ramage (c), Sandesh Jhingan, Deepak Mandal,
Soumik Dey (Ishfaq Ahmed – 39′), Peter Carvalho (C K Vineeth – 46′), Victor Pulga, Josu Currais (Red Card – 45+3′), Mohammed Rafi (Mehtab Hossain – 46′), Antonio German, Chris Dagnall
FC Goa XI: Laxmikant Kattimani (GK), Lucio (c), Gregory Arnolin, Debabrata Roy, Leo Moura (Romeo Fernandes – 87′), Jofre Mateu (Denson Devadas – 90+1′), Jonatan Lucca, Pronay Halder, Mandar Rao Dessai, Reinaldo, C S Sabeeth (Bikramjit Singh – 68′)