ISL Review FC Goa vs Mumbai City: Late le Fondre penalty saves Mumbai's blushes
In stoppage time of the first half, Len Doungel of FC Goa was promptly fouled by Mumbai’s Mourtada Fall after he was muscled off the ball by the winger. Fall simply could not stand being out-strengthened by someone who was approximately half his size. That incident was symbolic of the match. Goa simply wanted it more. They had a plan which was being executed very well until Redeem Tlang wanted it too much and got himself sent off in the 40th minute for an outrageous tackle on Hernan Santana.
The red card seemed to be just a stumble for Ferrando’s men who were better in every aspect until the hour mark. Lenny Rodrigues and Edu Bedia ran the show while new signing Angulo was everywhere in the final third. Mumbai’s expensive recruit Adam le Fondre did not get a kick thanks to Fall’s replacement at Goa, James Donachie. Ivan Gonzalez looked like a man on a mission, getting into multiple tussles but remaining solid at the back. Noguera sparkled in midfield.
The Islanders looked very much a work in progress. Last season’s best player Hugo Boumous was anonymous in the first half, desperately missing the industry of the suspended Ahmed Jahouh behind him. Amrinder Singh and Sarthak Golui looked uncomfortable playing around at the back. Despite that, Amrinder was perhaps their best player over ninety minutes making two brilliant stops early in the second half from Edu Bedia and Ivan Gonzalez to keep Lobera’s side in the match.
However, as Goa’s legs ran out Mumbai grew into the game, taking full advantage of the extra man. Their first shot of the target of the season, after a concerning 150 minutes of football, came from a long range sighter from Boumous. Mandar Rao Desai should have opened the scoring, inexplicably shooting over from six yards out. Le Fondre settled in and turned Gonzalez smartly before firing straight at Nawaz with a curling left shot.
The goal eventually came deep into stoppage time for Mumbai. Bipin’s header struck Lenny’s outstretched arm after some great work by Goddard down the right wing, and the referee pointed to the spot. Le Fondre slotted home the penalty emphatically. The Englishman has a stellar penalty record with a conversion rate of close to 90% and was never going to miss. It secured a valuable three points for Mumbai but there is much work to be done for Sergio Lobera.
The pre-match narrative was built around Lobera, Boumous et al returning to their old stomping ground, facing the side they left last season. It looked for a long time that it would be those who stayed that would make the decisive contribution rather than those who left. Ultimately, Goa’s gung-ho approach even after going down to ten men took its toll but it was a positive performance that would please Ferrando.
It must be noted that this was a Goa team without last year’s most creative Indian player Brandon Fernandes and hot prospect Ishan Pandita, both of whom are making their way back from injury. Lobera meanwhile is yet to find his best starting eleven but the points on the board will do him a world of good. The performance handed Goa the moral victory but it was Mumbai that took home the three points.