FC Goa made it to the semi-finals with a 0-0 result against Hyderabad FC in the 109th match of the 2020-21 Indian Super League (ISL) on Sunday. The tempers flared in the second-half, but FC Goa defended stoutly to deny a goal to the Nizams.
With a Top four spot on the line, Hyderabad FC knew very well that anything other than a win would mean the end of their season. Hyderabad FC also had to deal with the absence of the suspended duo of Aridane Santana and Chinglensana Singh, while Asish Rai continued to miss out due to his hamstring injury.
FC Goa came into the game without the services of Seriton Fernandes, who picked up a niggle before the match.
FC Goa survived an early scare when Mohammad Yasir fired in a low cross into the middle. Yasir could have taken more time and created a chance for Joel Chianese, but he made it very easy for Ivan Gonzalez to make a clearance.
Hyderabad FC got a free-kick only to see Halicharan Narzary’s delivery cleared away at the first time of asking. There weren’t many chances otherwise as both teams failed to pick up their quality in the final third.
Hyderabad FC left-back Akash Mishra got on his bike, but his attempted pass to Narzary was cleared by Gonzalez. A few minutes later, Saviour Gama delivered a cross from the left flank only to see Odei Onaindia at the right with an interception.
Mishra also produced a cross to the far post where Narzary nodded it into the middle, but Chianese slipped and this meant that the chance slipped away. Hyderabad FC midfielder Mohammad Yasir raced into the box, but Adil Khan used his physicality to hold off the youngster and let the ball roll to Dheeraj.
FC Goa started the second-half strongly as Redeem Tlang whipped in a dangerous cross, but Alexander Romario Jesuraj failed to react in time. Romario was also involved when he delivered a cross into the middle but no FC Goa forward attacked it. The ball rolled to Tlang on the other side of the box but he could only find the side-netting.
Hyderabad FC got a free-kick and Lluis Sastre floated the ball beyond the far post, but it was just over-hit for Chianese to rein it in. Mishra took a heavy touch and the ball rolled towards Dheeraj, after he dribbled past a couple of FC Goa defenders.
Hyderabad FC substitute Rohit Danu did well to squeeze the ball towards Chianese and he squared the ball to Sahil Tavora. However, Tavora skied his shot from the edge of the box.
Hyderabad FC came ever so close to taking the lead, but both Chianese and Liston Colaco failed to get any contact on a Joao Victor cross. At the other end, Devendra Murgaonkar made a good run on the left flank, but his curled shot went wide of the target. FC Goa centre-back James Donachie also headed the ball high from a delicious Jorge Ortiz corner-kick.
The nerves were palpable as Kattimani came up with a poor clearance after racing out of his line. However, Angulo couldn't capitalize as his long-range effort rolled wide of the goal.
The influential Gonzalez pulled FC Goa out of deep trouble after Dheeraj spilled a stinging Roland Alberg shot. Gonzalez cleared the ball just in time before Colaco could tap it into an empty net.
Dheeraj then tipped an Adil Khan header over the cross-bar after the experienced defender got his clearance wrong from a Hyderabad FC free-kick. It was agony for manager Manuel Marquez and the entire Hyderabad FC side as the Gaurs held onto the scoreless draw and sneaked into the play-offs.
Who was the Hero of the Match?
FC Goa’s Adil Khan bagged the ‘Hero of the Match’ award for his stellar defensive performance against the Nizams. Adil ensured that the make-shift Gaurs back-line didn’t put one foot wrong.
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The 32-year-old produced five clearances and two interceptions, with most of these actions coming in the final few minutes of the game. Adil also helped out Dheeraj after any mistake from the young custodian, while he also made the odd forward run.