New Delhi: Super-sub Romeo Fernandes’s miraculous brace and a late strike from Spaniard Joffre Mateu scripted a dramatic turnaround for FC Goa as they beat Delhi Dynamos here in the last league game of the Indian Super League to finish on top of the points table.
Fernandes, who substituted Debabrata Roy in the 56th minute, found the back of the net twice in the 68th and 70th minutes while Joffre sneaked in a late goal in the 90th as FC Goa came from a two-goal deficit to win the encounter at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Delhi.
With this win, the Zico’s army, who are on top of the league with 25 points will now take on the Dynamos, who finished on fourth with 22 points, in the 1st leg of semi-final-1 on 11th of December in Delhi. The second leg will be played in Goa on December 15th.
The other two teams – Atletico de Kolkata, who finished second with 23 points and Chennaiyin FC, who are on third with 22 points, will play the 1st leg of semi-final-2 on 12th December and the 2nd leg on December 16th.
If the first-half of the match belonged to Delhi Dynamos, the second-half was truly in favour of Goa.
They were down and out during the break when the Dynamos were in a commanding position with two-goal lead.
However, the change by Zico did the trick. Fernandes came on to score two goals in quick succession to level things before Joffre scored in the 90th minute to complete the turnaround.
Earlier, it was a pretty dull start to the game and it somewhat kicked into life after 30 minutes when Dutch midfielder Greene broke the stalemate and scored the opener in the 31st minute, also his first goal of the season.
Indian striker Robin Singh did well to get down the right and win a free-kick off FC Goa’s Lucio. It was then down to former French international Florent Malouda, who sent in a peach of a delivery from the right with his free-kick for an unmarked Greene to glance it past the keeper.
The goal injected some much needed tempo into the match with the home side taking advantage of the situation. Malouda and Robin both came close to scoring again but missed their respective chances.
It didn’t take Carlos’ men too long to find the back of the net as 9 minutes later, young West Ham striker Adil Nabi doubled the lead for the Dynamos. Richard Gadze played a pass through the defence and set his teammate up for a wonderful scoring opportunity. The striker made no mistake as he slotted the ball past Elinton Andrade to find the back of the net.
In the second half, Goa came back strongly and soon took the momentum away from the home team.
Fernandes first scored in the 68th minute when he got the ball on the right and cut in to make space for a shot. The youngster went for power and blasted it into the back of the net. Delhi goalkeeper Sanjiban Ghosh got a hand to it but it was not enough to keep the ball out.
The goal set the ball rolling and two minutes later, Fernandes struck his second to draw level. The winger made a good run into the box as a low cross came into the middle from the left. He had an easy tap-in and made no mistake to slot home the equaliser.
The final nail in Delhi’s coffin was hit by an experienced Joffre who struck at the stroke of 90 minutes to complete a superb comeback from Goa. The Spaniard made his way towards the keeper and dribbled past him to slot the ball into the back of the net.
With this win, Goa have got the momentum on their side and will be confident ahead of the semi-final clash against the same opposition.