Goals from Jofre, Rafael Coelho and Dudu provided FC Goa with an emphatic 3-0 win over Delhi Dynamos in the second leg of their semi-final tie at the Fatorda Stadium in Goa on Tuesday. With this convincing win, in what was a highly physical game of football, Goa have booked their place in the final by winning the tie with an aggregate score of 3-1.
Goa came into the match on the back of a 0-1 defeat in the first leg at Delhi. Robin Singh's headed goal in the first half had provided Roberto Carlos' men with a slim lead, and considering their defensive record in the league, they were the favourites to make it through in the tie; Zico, however, had other plans.
He made five changes to the Goa line-up - some forced, some tactical. Rafael Coelho replaced the injured Reinaldo upfront, and he was partnered by Dudu. With his team in need of goals, Zico recalled both Mandar Rao Desai and Romeo Fernandes into the line-up, while Bikramjit Singh replaced Jonatan Lucca in order to maintain five Indians in the line-up. Delhi Dynamos fielded an unchanged line-up from the first leg.
Goa started the match brightly and looked like a team who were out on a mission. They were strong in their challenges and pushed Delhi back into their own half. Rafael Coelho was troubling Delhi down the left wing, trying to exploit midfielder Sehnaj Singh who was playing as a right back.
The Gaurs restored parity into the tie with a goal in the 11th minute of the game. Pronay Halder released Jofre down the right wing with a long ball from the back. The Spaniard took on John Arne Riise after collecting the ball and easily ghosted past the former Liverpool defender. Jofre smacked in a low, and hard, shot at the near post, which took a slight deflection off Chicao and beat the goalkeeper.
The home team created another golden opportunity in the 22nd minute. Romeo Fernandes drifted in from the left, and his shot on the run struck Riise and looped up in the air. Delhi goalkeeper Toni Doblas decided to punch the ball, and it reached only as far as Romeo at the edge of the box. But the midfielder's volley, with the goalkeeper in no man's land, went wide.
At the other end, Delhi came close to scoring when a misdirected shot from Sehnaj, reached Adil Nabi inside the box. The Englishman tried to curl the ball into the far post, but his effort was just wide of the target.
That miss proved costly as Goa doubled their lead just a minute later. Bikramjit Singh's long ball from the back set up a counter attack, and Coelho was free down the right wing. The Brazilian took on Riise and his low shot went through the legs of the defender, struck the far post, and nestled into the back of the net.
Roberto Carlos had seen enough at that point and replaced Riise, who was partially at fault for both the goals, with Hans Mulder. Chicao dropped back to the defence, and Mulder's introduction provided the impetus in the midfield that Delhi were missing.
Goa went into the half-time break with a deserved 2-0 lead, and a foot already in the final.
Right after the break, Adil Nabi tested Goa goalkeeper Laxmikant Kattimani with a long range effort, after the ball broke for him kindly at the edge of the box, but it went straight to the custodian.
Doblas made couple of fantastic saves in the second half to keep his team in the game, the first of which arrived in the 52nd minute. Dudu chased down a lost cause down the left wing and beat Sehnaj with a lovely piece of skill. He picked out Romeo inside the box with a square pass but the Indian winger's shot at the near post was brilliantly kept out by the Delhi goalkeeper. Moura's follow-up shot went over the bar.
The second crucial save came just four minutes later. Leo Moura passed the ball to Romeo on the right wing, and he played in a dangerous cross into the box. Both Anas Edathodika and Doblas came for the ball and collided. Moura was first to lose the ball, but his shot was somehow kept out by the outstretched arm of the Spanish goalkeeper.
In the 64th minute, Coelho was stretchered off the pitch after being battered with rough tackles throughout the game. The striker was replaced by defensive midfielder Jonatan Lucca as Zico looked to secure Goa's lead.
The home team finally got the third goal which they were looking for, and it arrived in the 82nd minute. Jofre produced a delightful cross from the left wing, and it reached Romeo at the far post. He cut the ball back for Dudu, who poked it home.
The match, which was peppered with fouls and injuries, saw a lot of players lose their temper. Adil Nabi, who was substituted in the second half, was shown a red card for contempt after entering the playing field despite being on the bench.
Both the teams made as many as 34 fouls in the game, and the referee dished out 8 yellow cards. It was clear that Goa gave Delhi a dose of their own medicine. Roberto Carlos' men could not handle Goa's physicality on the pitch, and they were second best all over the park. Carlos' decision to not start with Mulder proved to be a big mistake as Florent Malouda provided one of his most lackluster performances this season.
The final of the ISL will be played at the Fatorda Stadiu, so FC Goa will have the advantage of playing in front of the home support against their opponent. The Gaurs will most likely face Chennaiyin FC in the final, considering the massive three-goal lead they have over Atletico de Kolkata from the first leg.