Chennai: FC Goa regained the top spot in the Hero Indian Super League after trumping Chennaiyin FC in an edge-of-the-seat contest that ended 4-3 in favour of the visitors here on Thursday.
First-half goals from Ahmed Jahouh (26′), Brandon Fernandes (41′) and Hugo Boumous (46′) set the Gaurs on their way. Chennaiyin threatened to come back with goals from Andre Schembri (57′) and Rafael Crivellaro (59′) but Ferran Corominas (63′) added a fourth for Goa before Crivellaro managed to get another goal back in injury time, setting up a grandstand finish.
However, Sergio Lobera’s team held on to seal the win. FC Goa head the table with 21 points from 10 matches whereas Chennaiyin’s loss has left them at eighth with nine points after as many games. The hosts started the game on a positive note but couldn’t maintain their aggression in the attacking third for long. Intricate build-up play by Nerijus Valskis and Rafael Crivellaro at the edge of the box nearly created an opening for the home side but the former’s backheel return for the latter’s forward run was well defended and cleared by the visitors’ defence. Goa soon took control of the midfield and struck the opening goal in the 26th minute.
Chennaiyin lost the ball in midfield and allowed Ferran Corominas to charge into the final third with the ball at his feet. The striker found Boumous to his right who in turn place the ball into the feet of Jahouh inside the box. The midfielder finished well past Vishal Kaith to break the deadlock. With Chennaiyin struggling to make a mark and respond to the first goal, Goa added their second goal four minutes before the break.
Lucian Goian failed to control Germanpreet Singh’s backpass and gifted it to an onrushing Brandon who executed a neat strike to beat Kaith and find the net. The hosts suffered another setback at the stroke of half-time, taking advantage of lacklustre defending once again. Jackichand Singh’s cross from the right flank found Boumous at the far post and the midfielder had enough time to caress the ball into the net to make it 3-0. Owen Coyle’s half-time team talk seemed to have done the trick for the hosts who nearly pulled off a comeback with two goals in two minutes close to the hour-mark.
The Goa defence failed to clear Crivellaro’s inswinging corner from the right and the ball fell to Schembri who put the ball into the back of the net. Lallianzuala Chhangte wrestled with Seriton Fernandes for the ball near the byline.
Valskis pounced on to the loose ball and passed it to Crivellaro who fired it past Mohammed Nawaz to give the home crowd hope. The hopeful period of play didn’t last long as Goa added to their tally from a break four minutes later. Boumous split the home defence with an excellent through-ball for Corominas who beat the offside trap, opened up his body and slotted into the net with aplomb to take the game away from the Marina Machans.
But Chennaiyin struck in injury time and set up a nervy finish to the game. Nawaz punched a corner delivery which Thapa headed into the path of Crivellaro inside the box. The forward turned and curled a stunning strike into the corner of the net. Chennaiyin’s Edwin Vanspaul was then sent off for a second yellow card amid chaotic final few minutes as Goa sneaked past the home side.