FC Goa clinches crucial win in play-off race, but needs to cover up their defense

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The Gaurs control their destiny well in the play-off race …

FC Goa are in control of their destiny in the 2020-21 Indian Super League play-off race after their 2-1 win over Bangalore at Fatorda Stadium on Sunday.

The result meant that Bengaluru FC will not finish in the top four for the first time in the ISL since their entry, while Goa now holds a three-point lead over play-off rivals Hyderabad and NorthEast United.

Having lost players like Mandar Rao Dessai, Ahmed Jahouh, Hugo Boumous and Jackichand Singh in the summer, it was always going to be a difficult year for FC Goa as they were going through something of a transition.

Above all, they had to put together a replacement for their record scorer at Ferran Corominas. But the club overcame that challenge and now has a forward as clinical as Coro in Igor Angulo. It should be noted that most ISL clubs, including Bengaluru, have failed to catch a clinical attacker.

Angulo scored his 13th goal in 18 games to open the stalemate against Bengaluru in the 20th minute on Sunday, a goal created by Lenny’s replacement at Glan Martins that dispossessed Erik Paartalu. The second goal came courtesy of Alexander Romario’s delicate set-up for Redeem Tlang to score his first goal in FC Goa colors in the 23rd minute.

Bengaluru FC Goa ISL Igor Angulo

When Angulo got a bit injured, Jorge Ortiz also efficiently seized the occasion and took his shoes. Alberto Noguera, too, impressed and has eight assists to his name. He might as well have his ninth assist Sunday if Angulo had been able to hit the mark against Gurpreet Singh, who did well to reduce the angle in the second half.

Goa is reaping the benefits of finding another top-tier forward in Angulo and has made smart moves in the market to demonstrate its self-reliance on its goals for the season, which also include its commitments in the AFC Champions League, which undoubtedly they will pose new challenges.

Returning to the current scenario, the area that Goa has to do much better is its determination at the rear. Their defense has leaked this season as they have struggled to keep more than two clean sheets, the last of which was nine games ago in a 3-0 win over Jamshedpur.

“After 19 games, it is normal for us to learn about the high press. We need to keep improving because sometimes we have problems in defense,” admitted FC Goa coach Juan Ferrando after Bengaluru’s victory.

Dheeraj Singh Bengaluru FC Goa ISL 7

If Goa qualify for the play-offs, this factor could make a big difference. Judging also by Sunday’s win, it’s not that Bangalore didn’t have many chances. The JSW-owned team had their chances, especially in the first half. But again, it all came down to being clinical up front, something Goa has shown this season.

Bengaluru couldn’t do much in the second half as they were overshadowed by Goa’s attack, particularly towards the end of the match, but the fact that Goa must be much tighter on the back cannot be ignored.

Goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh is also playing after a long time after his move to Goa in January and the nerves can be seen in his game at times. But he also managed the splendid reaction except to deny Sunil Chhetri and will hope to improve with more playing time.

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