- Noah Wail (49')
- Kwame Karikari (10', 73' Pen)
Chennaiyin FC handed FC Goa a second defeat on the trot and dealt a massive blow to their playoff qualification hopes in the Indian Super League (ISL) with a 2-1 win at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Thursday. Kwame Karikari bagged a brace as GOa remained in sixth place, level on points with Odisha FC, who can replace them in the final playoff spot if they avoid defeat in Guwahati on Friday.
Ten minutes into the match, it was Chennaiyin FC drew first blood. Julius Duker rode Edu Bedia's tackle in midfield before sliding an inch-perfect through pass to Vincy Barretto on the left flank. The winger picked out Karikari with a low ball and he side-footed it home.
Five minutes after the goal, at the other end of the pitch, Samik Mitra spilled the ball inside a crowded penalty area and Devendra Murgaonkar was the first to react and get his shot away, but it was blocked and eventually cleared to safety.
Noah Sadaoui was wreaking havoc down the left flank, getting 22 touches in the final third in the first half. The Moroccan whipped in nine crosses in the first half but none of them resulted in anything substantial. One of those crosses came after Mitra parried Brandon Fernandes' long-range goal-bound freekick into the path of the winger. It was headed wide by Bedia.
Four minutes into the second half, Sadaoui brought Goa level. Bedia played a long ball out towards the left flank from the midfield. The Moorccan escaped his marker, brought it down and powered it into the net. Minutes later, he tried to replicate the move but this time Edwin Vanspaul was alert and thwarted his attempt.
In the 72nd minute, Anirudh Thapa won a race with Dheeraj Moirangthem to reach a loose back pass from Bedia. As Thapa took the ball away from goal, Dheeraj took the midfielder out and conceded a penalty. Karikari stepped up to take the spot kick and pocketed his second goal of the evening, which turned out to be the winner.
FC Goa are hanging by a thread in the playoff race now and will play Bengaluru FC next on February 23. This result confirmed playoff qualification for Bengaluru and Kerala Blasters.
- Ashwin Mohanlal Kanojia