FC Goa vs Atletico de Kolkata: A penalty shoot-out win takes Kolkata into the final
After a rather drab affair at the Salt Lake Stadium, the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Goa had a similar story as either team failed to score in the 90 minutes of stipulated play and 30 minutes of extra time. It was down to penalty shoot-out where a couple of misses from FC Goa cost them dear as they went down 4-2 to Atletico de Kolkata who will now face Kerala Blasters in the final on Saturday.
While Atletico de Kolkata welcomed back Arnab Mondal and Baljit Sahni to the starting XI, FC goa too had Bruno Pinheiro back in the line-up, while Peter Carvalho replaced the injured Narayan Das from the reverse leg of the semi-final.
The game started on a positive note unlike the previous leg with the visitors making the first move as Jacob Podany made a good run into the Goa box, but was brought down followed by a failed free-kick attempt. FC Goa struck back within minutes as Rome Fernandes was at the end of a mis-hit from Andre Santos, but the 22-year old failed to make the most of it.
Sensing danger, Kolkata were happy to invite Goa on the attack and hit on the counter. Bikramjit set free in the midfield was brought down by Sanju which was then lined up by Santos. Though the free-kick was poor, Peter Carvalho kept it alive spreading it wide to the left to Amiri, who cut it back to Slepicka, who sent in a delightful cross only to see Arnolin’s effort being tipped off by Edel.
Andre Santos had another chance go begging with the Brazilian failing to put the return ball from Mandar into the net. The game then slowed down as both teams adopted a cautious approach to see off the first half.
To add more thrust and drive to their game, FC Goa replaced Carvalho with Jewel Raja in the centre of the park. The move paid dividend in the wider sense as Romeo had a great chance, skipping past Josemi but Edel was upto the task as he tipped it wide.
The moment of the game came when Andre Santos was found free in the box and just as he was about to take the shot, the Brazilian went down with claims of a penalty. Referee waved-off any such indications and replays suggested Arnab was not at fault.
But Andre Santos just did not seem to stay away from the game as he was at the end of another chance. Mandar Rao Desai did really well to go beyind Kingshuk on the left and pull it back for Andre Santos from the byline, who then swerves in a shot to produce a diving save from Edel.
The pace of the game slowed down a bit as both teams looked to save the goal more than score one and were wasteful during the entire last 15 minutes which saw the game go to extra time with either team failing to score over the course of 180 minutes over 2 legs.
The Extra time began with high hopes as both teams looked to replicate Stephen Person’s magic moment and FC Goa brought on Togay Ozbey to change the dynamics of an otherwise drab night, but the move did not turn things around.
Both teams looked tired and had odd chances fall their way, the best going to Mandar in the first half of extra time after the hard work from Romeo found him, but the shot was blocked rather easily by Edel as the visitors breathed a sigh of relief.
Kolkata introduced Cavin Lobo to repeat the feat of the league stage, while Goa inducted the experience of Clifford Miranda, but neither team seemed to be wanting to take the risk of committing forward and the game had penalties written all over it and that is where it headed after a drab 120 minutes where either team failed to score even once.
Santos stepped up first to take the penalty and hit it wide, something elusive of his day. Amiri too missed a penalty for Goa as Kolkata struck four out of their four to win the tie 4-2 on penalties.