This was the top two going head to head. They are also my two favourite teams in the league. Just in case you’re thinking condescendingly, I am not a glory seeker. I wanted FC Goa to win when they were sucking and the same goes for Chennaiyin FC.
In this game, Goa had more to play for and it showed with the way they played the game. What Chennaiyin did wouldn’t impress Signore Nesta. Based on this, they need Nesta.
On the evidence of this performance, I think Goa is good for getting through the semis and winning the final. They are the most complete team in the league right now.
However, when Chennaiyin get Elano back and Nesta into their starting line-up, they will be a different team altogether. So I know it will be between these two teams in the end. That’s my final. And, unless Chennaiyin get Elano back, they’ll be losing it.
Rotation – Minimal Player Rotation, Full Tactical Rotation
So, Chennaiyin’s management pulled a fast one on us or maybe I made the mistake of reading more in a statement than was there. They said they will rotate their players and they – just not as much as I thought they would.
Chennaiyin made 3 changes to their starting line-up. They actually made their team even more attacking by bringing in one forward and one midfielder for one forward and one defender.
The players brought in were Bruno Pelissari and Jayesh Rane and the players hooked were Balwant Singh and Dhanachandra Singh. In addition, they changed their keeper to give Shilton Paul a chance and Gennaro Bracigliano a rest.
Chennaiyin Dominate the First 20 Minutes
In the first half, instead of being on the front foot, FC Goa were pegged by Chennaiyin’s innovative play. They actually did experiment with their tactics.
They tried something similar to what Northeast United FC employ on a regular basis – attack from flank inward and vary it with some crosses.
It was an interesting ploy simply because I wanted to see how Goa react tactically. It didn’t happen in the first ten minutes which were clearly Chennaiyin’s.
However, the first real incident went against Chennaiyin when Andre Santos got under Bernard Mendy’s skin by nutmegging him.
Mendy went face to face with Santos and then Cristian Hidalgo stepped into the mess. Both Mendy and Cristian got yellow carded. It was well done by Santos. He effectively had 2 Chennaiyin players yellow carded without doing anything naughty himself. To be honest with you, I enjoyed that.
Chennaiyin were playing well, though. I really liked the way they were pinging the ball around between themselves. For a good 20 minutes, Goa players were chasing shadows on the pitch.
FC Goa Shock Chennaiyin Blue and Silly!
But, nothing Chennaiyin did mattered because in the 22nd minute, Goa shocked Chennaiyin blue and silly. It was a brilliant goal. The shot came in from outside the box by Mandar Desai.
It was a wicked one that was swerving and dipping. Paul got a touch on the ball which made it smash hard against the crossbar. The ball came out towards the penalty spot and Mendy.
However, Slepicka was there to make a mickey out of Mendy just like Santos. He poked the ball away and guess who it fell to? Why, it was ROMEO FERNANDES!
Romeo struck first time with his left foot and the ball nestled into the bottom corner. It was a beautiful goal with great skill shown by all the FC Goa players. Chennaiyin FC 0 – 1 FC Goa.
Chennaiyin See Flashbacks of Northeast United In White
Goa could’ve made it even worse for Chennaiyin by scoring another. Santos took a freekick from the right flank at an extremely acute angle and hits the goal post with the keeper beaten.
That was a clear warning from Goa because a minute later they did score. What’s more, it was Santos who scored. The ball bobbled around outside the Chennaiyin box before Slepicka poked it to Santos.
Santos swivelled on his right foot and put his left boot through the ball. The ball, needless to say, went into the net. Chennaiyin FC 0 – 2 FC Goa.
By the way, this meant that Slepicka had assisted both the goals. He may not have scored but what he did was key for each goal.
If anyone ever doubted FC Goa’s credentials till now, their performance today would put it beyond doubt. They are a top team. They have the flair. They have the defence. And, they have the tactics. That was the whole of the first half.
Goa Have Some Really Wonderful Indian Players
Romeo Fernandes is phenomenal. Remember, I said he would be big and I’m so proud of this guy. An Indian player! He’s got wonderful skill! I can’t sing enough praises of him!
You know Mandar is also not that bad. It’s just he’s being overshadowed by Romeo on the opposite flank. Mandar is a little bit rawer than Rome who himself is slightly raw.
Still, both of them have oodles of potential. Even Narayan Das is a good defender with lots of skill in the Ashley Cole mould.
A Second Half with the Same Story
In the second half, Chennaiyin went after Goa. They took off the ineffective Rane and brought on the skilful Balwant. They were given a chance to further become more attack oriented when Eric Djemba-Djemba got injured.
They brought on Bojan Djordjic for him. They attacked nonstop in the second half but Goa pulled off some great counterattacks. That was how the whole half was to pan out.
Goa Rub Salt on Spiced Wound
In the 58th minute, I think we saw the absence of Materazzi in the dugout (he was off to Bangkok to play some exhibition match). The assistant coach of Chennaiyin, Vivek Nagul, made the strange decision to take of Pelissari to bring on Jean-Eudes Maurice. I think that was the fatal mistake from Chennaiyin.
As McCoy once said, “If you’re gonna ride in the Kentucky Derby, you don’t leave your prize stallion in the stable.”
The 3rd goal didn’t take long to come after that. In the 62nd minute, Miroslav Slepicka scored from a rebound. The initial shot again came from outside the box; this time from Narayan Das. It was spilled by the keeper and was put into the top corner by Slepicka. Game over for Chennaiyin. Chennaiyin FC 0 – 3 FC Goa.
In the majority of the last 32 minutes, Chennaiyin huffed and puffed but couldn’t bring the house down. I mean that. Their fans were quiet and subdued even when they scored their consolation goal. Goa gave away the ball in midfield and it was sent into Maurice at the edge of the 18 yard box. He saw Jan Seda off the line and beat him with what was the last kick of the game. Chennaiyin FC 1 – 3 FC Goa.
For the majority of the second half, the game slowly drifted to a point where its recording could’ve been used by the wicked witch on Snow White. In fact, if that was done Prince Charming would’ve kissed, kissed, and kissed till he had no breath left and the darling White wouldn’t have woken up.
You want the bottom line? Goa have qualified for the next phase of the league with Chennaiyin.
Goa’s Brilliance in the League Continues
This was the 4th time that Goa had scored 3 goals in a single game in their last 5 games. The one game in which they didn’t score 3 was the one in which they scored 2.
Further, this was almost their 5th, yes 5th, straight clean sheet. In fact, this means that they’ve played 7 games and only conceded 2 goals. Unholy, yes? That combination is rare folks. Only the best teams score a lot and don’t concede any.
If you look, you’ll find that only championship winning teams can manage something like this. Manchester United did it a lot, Arsenal did it in the time of Invincibles, Barcelona did it in their glory days, Liverpool, and Real Madrid ditto. Chelsea’s UEFA Champions League win doesn’t count. They had some voodoo shit going on in that season.
You know what the best part of this match was. I saw many Arsenal fans in the stadium. I knew we had support in the country but not like this. Are there any Delhi Gooners? Is there a fans club I can join? If any of you know, will you FFS tell me? If there isn’t can we make one please? Would you like me to stop asking questions? Do you think the best way to get me to do that is to answer them for me? Shall I wait? Ahem…