Goa, October 23, 2019: Chennaiyin FC suffered a harsh opening day 3-0 defeat away to FC Goa at the Fatorda Stadium here today. Seiminlen Doungel, Ferran Corominas and Carlos Pena scored for the hosts as CFC Head Coach John Gregory gave full debuts to seven of the eleven players in the starting eleven.
FC Goa began with more of the ball but the game’s first big chance and talking point came in the 12th minute, when Romanian Dragos Firtulescu was felled contentiously in the Goa penalty box by Seriton Fernandes. Schembri’s through ball had freed Dragos, only to be hacked down by Seriton who failed to get a piece of the ball. The referee Pranjal Banerjee however was unmoved, waving away CFC’s vociferous penalty claims.
FC Goa went on to take the lead at the half hour mark. Manvir Singh skipped past two CFC defenders and delivered a low cross at the near post, which took a deflection off Vishal Kaith in goal and defender Eli Sabia, before ricocheting into the back of the net off Doungel. The Indian forward scoring on his FC Goa debut.
Thereafter Vishal Kaith, playing his first match in goal for Chennaiyin, pulled off a couple of decent saves from Coro and Brandon, keeping the scoreline at 1-0.
Chennaiyin tried to hit back before the break and created a couple of decent openings, the latter of which fell to Dhanpal Ganesh on the stroke of half time. The Tamil Nadu midfielder received the ball at the edge of the box but pulled his shot wide.
Ganesh was replaced by the attack-minded Anirudh Thapa at half time. CFC began brightly in the second half, with Dragos and Lallianzuala Chhangte combining well on a few instances. The latter made Goa goalkeeper Mohammad Nawaz stretch and save to his left, when he cut in from the left and unleashed a rasping drive.
Somewhat against the run of play, Goa doubled their lead past the hour mark. Breaking from a CFC corner, Goa made a swift counter with Manvir finding Jackichand on the right. The Manipur winger found Coro at the far post, the Spaniard taking a touch and putting it past Kaith.
Rafael Crivellaro and Nerijus Valskis subsequently came on for Dragos and Masih Saighani respectively, with Goa sitting back and playing on the counter. With ten minutes to go, Goa scored their third, a soft goal from CFC’s point of view, as Carlos Pena tapped home a free kick at the near post by making the most of some poor marking.
CFC had a couple of half chances towards the end but to no avail as FC Goa ran out 3-0 winners.
Head Coach John Gregory lamented on the nature of the defeat in his post-match press conference, especially pointing out the scoreline flattered the opponents. “The scoreline flattered Goa a bit. They had lots of possession, but most of it in their own half. Second half was dominated pretty much by us, but three errors at the other end led to their goals,” he said.
Commenting on the referee not awarding a penalty for Seriton’s challenge on Dragos in the first half, Gregory said, “I have had a word with our media department, who had the opportunity to watch the replays again and again and again. And it was a penalty again and again and again. And I think the referee made a huge mistake in not awarding us a penalty. It changes the game, (if the penalty was awarded).”
When asked about the new signings and what he made of their performance, Gregory confessed, “I have seen some good and bad signs from their performances. Unlike this Goa team that has been together for a couple of seasons now, we are getting used to one another. I am getting used to them. We are working to get the right balance. I’ve learned a few more things about all my new signings tonight. We’re looking forward to playing Mumbai in the next match at home.”