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ISL: FC Goa climb to second place with win over Chennaiyin FC

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Margao: FC Goa intensified their pursuit of a second-place finish in the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 league stages with a clinical 4-1 win against Chennaiyin FC at the Fatorda Stadium here on Sunday night.

As a result of this victory, the Gaurs round off their league campaign with 45 points from 22 matches. They are thus level on points with Mohun Bagan Super Giant, who have played a game fewer (21) than FC Goa currently.

The Mariners will play their final league fixture against Mumbai City FC at the Vivekananda

Yuba Bharati Krirangan here on Monday night.

A victory will see them become the ISL 2023-24 League Winners, whereas a draw will mean that they will slip into the third spot. In such a scenario, FC Goa will directly qualify for the semi-finals whereas the Mariners will have to battle for a place in the last-four through the playoffs route.

Regardless of Monday’s result, this win was essential for FC Goa for them to remain in the hunt for the second spot, and they got that in some style with three goals in quick succession towards the end of the first half.

Chennaiyin FC, who are already into the playoffs, began the game strongly, as a strike by Rahim Ali in the 13th minute meant that they got a foot ahead in this away clash.

Ninthoinganba Meetei spotted an onrushing Rahim on the inside channel of the right flank, and the latter received and converted the same with sublime ease to net the opening strike.

However, it was all FC Goa from there onwards, as their skilful frontline joined hands to trouble the Marina Machans from all ends of the box.

It started with Carlos Martinez moving the ball up on the right before laying it in the path of Seriton Fernandes near the touchline. The latter crossed in the ball and it was tapped home by midfielder Borja Herrera in the 33rd minute to bag the equaliser.

Livewire winger Boris Singh eased things for FC Goa by drawing a foul off Sachu Siby inside the penalty area in the 35th minute, leading to the sending off of the latter.

Martinez, who was a key character in building up Herrera’s goal, stepped up for the spot-kick duties and completed them effortlessly by hitting the ball into the bottom left corner.

Lastly, it was time for local star Brandon Fernandes to round off the proceedings. The Chennaiyin FC defence wore an arguably disoriented look after the team lost Siby.

It provided FC Goa spaces to explore and their Moroccan talisman took an active interest in the same. His dashing run on the left flank coupled with a timely squared up pass for Brandon was effectively converted in the added time of the first-half, helping the Gaurs gather a lead by two goals heading into the half-time break.

Martinez kept the pressure afloat on the Chennaiyin FC backline late into the game as well. The Spaniard was smart in his final third positioning on Sunday night, and he provided a timely evidence of the same by bagging his brace in the 72nd minute off a precise delivery into the box by former Bengaluru FC attacker Udanta Singh.

Chennaiyin FC will now compete in the ISL playoffs for a place in the semi-finals, whereas FC Goa’s fate in the table and whether they’ll play straight in the semis or would have to go into the playoffs will be determined by the result of Monday’s game between Mumbai City FC and the Mohun Bagan Super Giant.

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