Panjim, Goa: The Gaurs charged to second on the ISL table after an emphatic encounter against Kerala Blasters FC, beating the yellow brigade 5-2. It was the visiting team that took an early lead through Mark Sifneos but Manuel Lanzarote pulled it back in favour of the Gaurs with two superb goals. Jackichand Singh equalized just before half-time but Ferran ‘Coro’ Corominas, fresh from a superb hat-trick in the previous match, made history for the third time in the tournament, scoring his second consecutive three goal haul, a first in ISL history.
Kerala Blasters were jolted early in the first half as star man Dimitar Berbatov pulled up with injury with only a few moments gone. That however, did not deter them from starting on the front foot as they went ahead early on through Mark Sifneos. Running down the right wing, Jackichand Singh floated a superb cross towards the far post that sailed over both central defenders to reach Sifneos who trapped the ball and poked it goalwards. Kattimani who got a hand to the ball wasn’t able to prevent the shot from crossing the line. The Gaurs however, were not to be denied as they came roaring back with a goal of their own only a minute later. Edu Bedia found the run of Narayan Das on the left with a defence splitting through ball. The left back’s first time cross to the far post was hit on the volley by Lanzarote. Paul Rachubka got a hand to the ball but was unable to stop it.
With momentum on their side, FC Goa pushed forward in a bid to take the lead and managed to do so in the 18th minute after a terrible error from Rachubka. The goalkeeper’s attempted pass to his defender was intercepted by Lanzarote who took on the defence and hit a right footed shot to the near post to send the Fatorda faithful into delirium. The yellow brigade desperately tried to find a way back into the game but the Goan midfield held its shape and kept the ball well. However, against the run of play, Kerala were back in the match. Jackichand played a superb give and go with Milan Singh, charged at the Goan goal and placed a left footed effort at the far post. Three minutes later, the South Indian side should have been ahead after Sifneos received the ball in the penalty spot. His shot under pressure however, flew high above the crossbar. The Gaurs continued to push forward to find another goal and could have been ahead through Brandon Fernandes but the youngster’s shot flew wide of the post. The referee called for half-time not long after.
The Gaurs came out charging in the second half and left the Kerala Blasters defence in tatters as they romped to an emphatic three goal lead only eight minutes after the restart. Once again it was the dynamic and lethal Coro who scored his second hat-trick in as many matches. The first of his three goals came in the 47th minute when the impressive Jahouh picked the ball in midfield and threaded an immaculate through ball for the Spaniard to run on to and he finished at the near post. Kerala could have come back almost immediately after a ball is fizzed across the Goa box but Seriton who was having a superb game got in front of Courage Pekuson to clear the danger. Two minutes later, Brandon found Coro with another peach of a through ball that sliced the Kerala defence wide open. Coro burst past the central defenders and scored with a stunning chip. Three minutes later, the milestone was reached, this time Jahouh sending Lanzarote through with a first time pass. The attacking midfielder ran towards the box and put in an early low ball for Coro who promptly tapped home and flew to the top of the goal standings with seven strikes.
The damage could have been worse minutes later when Mandar cut in from the left and released a right footed effort at goal which Rachubka managed to save. Courage Pekuson who was having a quiet game returned the favour minutes later and Kattimani made the save. Sergio made his first save midway through the half, bringing on Pronay Halder for Narayan Das. Lanzarote could have completed his hat-trick in the 72nd minute after he was set up by a brilliant dummy from Bedia. The Spaniard took his time and curled an effort goalwards but the ball ricocheted back into play off the cross bar. Not long after, Lanzarote had another chance to net his third but his shot was intercepted. As the half raced to a finish, the South Indian side pushed forward in a bid to limit the damage but the Gaurs were content playing on the counter. After surviving a late goal mouth scramble, Sergio’s charges almost scored once more through Pronay who smashed a stunning shot goalwards but Rachubka dived well to his left to make a one handed save. Ali’s header on target from the resultant corner was also stopped well by the former Manchester United goalkeeper. Fatorda erupted into celebration soon after as the referee called for time on proceedings.
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