Margao: A scintillating offensive display enabled a buoyant FC Goa to a 3-1 aggregate victory over Delhi Dynamos in a two-legged semi-final and enter the title round of the Indian Super League (ISL) here on Tuesday.
Spanish midfielder Joffre Mateu scored in the 11th minute, followed by Brazilian forward Rafael Coelho on 27 minutes that helped Goa lead 2-0 at half-time in the second leg match. Man-of-the-Match Nigerian striker Dudu Omagbemi put the finishing touches to the lop-sided 3-0 scoreline in the 84th minute as the hosts overturned a 0-1 deficit they conceded in the first leg at New Delhi on December 11 to enter the final.
They await the winner of defending champions Atletico de Kolkata and Chennaiyin FC whose second legged match will be played in Kolkata on Wednesday. Chennaiyin lead the tie 3-0.
Goa were the semi-finalists in the inaugural edition of the tournament last year. The final of the competition will be played here on December 20.
Goa were determined to hit the ground running at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in their aim of plucking up an early goal that would have nullified Dynamos’ deficit.
They were egged on by their animated coach Zico who entered into an argument with the referee at the very beginning of the game that displayed his eagerness as well as nervousness.
They got what they yearned in the 11th minute. Spanish midfielder Joffre Mateu capped off his superb solo run from the right with a fierce low left-footed shot that crashed into the near post of goalkeeper Toni Doblas.
Dynamos were subjected to intense pressure, which reflected on their coach Roberto carlos’ face. He was seen in an enthusiastic discussion with his defensive spearhead John Arne Riise after the goal with both visibly disagreeing with each other.
They were in serious trouble and were disintegrating spectacularly under the consistently impressive combined attacking display of Goa’s frontmen.
Dynamos survived going behind on 23 minutes when the sparkling home-grown talent Romeo Fernandes’ attempt went inches wide after latching onto a feeble clearance from Doblas.
Goa deservedly took an aggregate lead four minutes later with a similar strike as the first goal amidst sporadic, hopeful attempts by Dynamos.
Coelho dangerously danced his way towards the box from the vulnerable right side and let loose a low grounder, this time towards the far post of Doblas. The ball landed into the net after thundering off the inside of the post as a diving Doblas clutched thin air.
By this time, the hosts were all over Carlos’ side and the disapproving Brazilian reacted by replacing the non-functioning Riise with Dutch midfielder Hans Mulder at the half hour mark hoping to provide support to lonely Frenchman Florent Malouda.
Dynamos hoped the change of ends would facilitate a change of fortunes but Goa creditably didn’t let their foot off the pedal and continued to expose the bungling right-back Robert Lalthlamuana by creating two golden opportunities.
A conversion of any one of them would have killed off the contest considering the sustained domination of the hosts.
But Doblas rose to the occasion producing smart saves, blocking shots of Fernandes and Brazilian Leo Moura, to keep his team in the hunt though the clock unfailingly ticked away.
The frenetic nature of action evoked some bruising physical display from both sides prompting the referee to show several yellow cards.
As the match entered its finals stretch, hope of Dynamos evaporated rapidly as a marauding Goa looked likelier to score.
They duly obliged when Fernandes laid it for Dudu to finish off another free-flowing coordinated attack from close range, much to the dejection of the Dynamos camp whose English striker Adil Nabi, substituted in the 58th minute, was red-carded for showing dissent at a linesman.