News & Features/Gaurs progress to quarter-finals with comprehensive victory over ATK
FC Goa registered their second successive victory against ATK at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar with a comprehensive 3-1 win over the Kolkata team.
ISL top scorer Ferran Corominas opened the scoring in first half stoppage time with a neat finish at the far post. The Bengal side then hit back in the second half through Robbie Keane. But the Gaurs were not to be denied after Hugo Boumous beat the offside trap and smashed an effort in at the near post in the 69th minute. Brandon Fernandes then wrapped up the scoring in the 77th minute to help the Gaurs set up a mouth-watering clash against Jamshedpur FC.
It was a good start to the first period for the Gaurs who kept hold of the ball well and moved it around. The midfield pivot of Pronay Halder and Edu Bedia were controlling the pace of the game well and putting balls forward for the likes of Brandon Fernandes, Mandar Rao Desai and Hugo Boumous. Edu and Sergio Juste both had chances in the opening exchanges but neither Spaniard was able to direct the ball past Soram Poirei in goal. As the half progressed, the Kolkata side were finding it difficult to keep pace with the Goans who constantly attacked them from either wing. In the 17th minute, Brandon cut in superbly from the right, got to the byline but overhit his cross despite a number of players making runs into the area. For ATK, Portuguese winger Zequinha was causing Seriton Fernandes some trouble down ATK’s left.
Edu had another chance in the 22nd minute to give his side the lead when he cut in from the right and attempted to curl the ball towards the far post. However, the ball sailed inches wide of the far post and ATK were let off. Despite the Goans’ attacking prowess, it was the Kolkata side that came closest to scoring when Robbie Keane’s deflected shot from the right came back in off the crossbar. This didn’t deter the Gaurs from continuing to attack the men in red and white. Brandon found himself with space on the right after he was played through by Boumous but the Goan winger put too much power on his low cross and the chance was lost. Three minutes before the end of the first half, Boumous should have had the equalizer after Ferran Corominas showed incredible pace to beat a Kolkata defender to the ball, pull it back and play the Moroccan through but Goa’s number 4 blazed the ball over under no pressure. That miss however, did not hurt them as they took the lead moments later. Edu controlled the ball well outside the box and threaded a neat through ball to Coro who beat the offside trap, took the ball in his stride and smashed it in at the far post past Soram who could do nothing about it. With only a minute left to play, the Gaurs were given a scare when Zequinha cut in and unleashed a low shot towards the near post which just about creeped wide. That was the last action of the half as the referee called for time on proceedings moments later.
The Gaurs started the second period in the same way they left off from the first half. Brandon’s claims for an early penalty were waved away after the winger was brought down. The Gaurs were unlucky not to have received the penalty as ATK found themselves back on level terms before the 50th minute mark. A cross from the right was headed on towards the far post for a waiting Robbie Keane who made no mistake, smashing it home first time past Naveen Kumar into the far post from close range. The Gaurs were under pressure to take the lead once more and they pushed forward with purpose in a bid to regain their advantage. Brandon had another chance to put in a good cross from the right but he failed to find a teammate. Sibongakonke Mbatha was causing Narayan Das all sorts of problems on Goa’s left wing as the left back struggled to keep the African in check.
As the half progressed, both teams struggled to create clear cut opportunities. But the Gaurs looked the likelier of the two sides to take the lead. As they surged forward, they were finally rewarded in the 69th minute when Coro trapped a pass from Narayan and lobbed the ball over the defence for Boumous who beat the offside trap, took the ball down, ran towards goal and then smashed in an effort at the near post to give the Gaurs their lead once again. The lead could have been doubled in the 75th minute when Brandon was played through on the left. The winger cut the ball to his stronger right foot and hit an effort at the near post which Soram had to dive to keep out. The winger though, finally got his reward for persistent attacking play in the 77th minute after neat work from Narayan and Coro once more. The left back cut a low ball back into the path of Coro who cushioned a pass into the path of Brandon who charged into the box and curled a shot past the goalkeeper to make it 3-1.
As the game progressed, ATK began to attack a little more and Bruno Pinheiro had to be alert to clear a low cross into the box. Former Gaur Robin Singh had the chance to half the deficit after a clearance fell kindly for him but he blazed over from a few yards out with the ball on his stronger left foot. With ATK pouring numbers forward, the Gaurs began to find pockets of space in attack and they attempted to use this space to their advantage. However, with players tiring out, they were unable to make the advantage count as time ran out with the Gaurs advancing to the quarter-finals where they will take on fellow ISL side Jamshedpur FC.