FC Goa defeated Bengaluru FC 7-6 in a dramatic penalty shootout to enter the final of the Durand Cup 2021. FC Goa goalkeeper Naveen Kumar redeemed himself after a howler in the opening minute by saving Damait Lyngdoh’s penalty to win it for his team.
Sivasakthi gave Bengaluru FC the lead in the first minute before Devendra Murgaonkar equalized for FC Goa. Redeem Tlang gave FC Goa the lead 20 minutes before full-time but the Blues hit back through Siva again.
Bengaluru FC were gifted a dream start by Naveen within 45 seconds of kick-off. Receiving a back-pass from Ivan Gonzalez, the goalkeeper dallied on it for too long, allowing Siva to close him down. As Naveen tried to clear the ball, Siva’s outstretched leg blocked it and diverted it into the net.
But within seven minutes, FC Goa equalized through a set-piece. A short corner was played to Nemil who crossed it in towards the near post. Devendra timed his run to perfection and glanced in his header.
The tempo of the game dropped drastically after that, with both sides struggling to create any clear openings. That resulted in some wayward long-distance shooting, showcasing both sides’ frustration.
After the half-hour mark, Sanson Pereira and Saviour Gama put together a brilliant one-touch move down the left. The cut-back found an FC Goa player but the shot was scuffed and Muhammed Nemil fired the rebound over the bar.
Five minutes later, a similar passing move took place on the right side of the field as FC Goa came forward again. Nemil started the move by releasing Leander D’Cunha whose low cross fell to Alberto Noguera. The Spaniard laid it off for Nemil who skied his effort again.
Bengaluru FC had the first two chances of the second half and they fell to Bidyashagar Singh and Akashdeep Singh. The former shot well wide of the mark from a difficult angle while the latter missed from six yards out.
On the hour mark, Nemil won a foul about 25 yards from the Bengaluru FC goal. Edu took charge of the free-kick and tested Lara who put it out for a corner.
In the 72nd minute, substitute Redeem was sent through by Noguera and he made no mistake with a left foot finish. FC Goa had a chance to score again 10 minutes later but Makan Chothe volleyed over from Noguera’s lobbed pass.
A minute later, Bengaluru FC launched a counter-attack from the right with Ajith bombing forward. His cut-back from the byline was cleared but only as far as Namgyal Bhutia. The winger put the ball back in the box and Siva flicked his header past Naveen to equalize.
Both sides showed tremendous signs of fatigue as the game went into extra time and chances were few and far between. Edu had the best chance in the 116th minute when his header hit the post from Sanson’s cross.
Redemption for FC Goa's Naveen Kumar
The penalty shootout saw some excellently taken spot-kicks by both sides. Redeem missed FC Goa’s second kick but was given a reprieve after opposite number Akashdeep put his wide as well.
There were no more errors on either side as the shootout entered the sudden death phase. Naveen went from zero to hero as he guessed correctly to save Damait’s weakly struck effort.
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FC Goa will face Mohammedan Sporting in the Durand Cup 2021 final on Sunday at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata.