Delhi Dynamos’s status of being one of the undefeated teams in the Hero Indian Super League ended in dramatic fashion. Goa FC vs Delhi Dynamos ended in a win for the home side, Goa FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Margao, Goa. Zico’s boys had not won a single game coming into this game and pre-match reports indicated they would do well if they avoid defeat against a strong Delhi team. However, Tolgay Ozbey had other ideas as his goal deep into injury time got his side vital 3 points as they beat Delhi Dynamos by the odd goal in three.
A ring of changes
One can’t help but feel that even though Dynamos coach Harm Van Veldhoven expected a tough challenge from bottom side Goa, deep down he felt that this was a great chance for his dynamic team to stake their claim on the teams above him on the points table. Veldhoven decided to freshen things up as he gave first team starts to the trio of Stijn Houben, Morten Skoubo and Francis Fernandes with Wim Raymaekers, Alessandro Del Piero and Steven Dias making way.
The talented Dutchman has always been known for making clever tactical changes and these changes would definitely have not been something his counterpart Zico would have expected. Zico himself made a string of changes to his side with Jewel Raja, Miroslav Slepicka, Romeo Fernandes, Mandar Rao Desai and goalkeeper Jan Seda starting ahead of Miguel Herlein, Ranti Martins, Laxmikant Kattimani, Gabriel Fernandes and Peter Carvalho. Zico believed his side perhaps wouldn’t be starting bottom of the league if they had some luck on their side, something which Van Veldohoven too acknowledged. The fact that they created goal scoring opportunities in each of their prior matches was a sign of encouragement for Zico, and he believed that with some luck they could turn their season around.
Delhi draws first blood
The optimism seemed to have been well founded as it was FC Goa who had a string of opportunities in the first five minutes. Narayan Das was denied cruelly by the woodwork and Andre Santos unleashed a speculative deadly left volley strike that flew inches wide. However it wasn’t surprising as few minutes later it was the Dynamos who went ahead. Hans Mulder took the ball in his control and played a gem of a through ball that Bruno Arias picked up and crossed first time deliciously for Mads Junker, who was lucky to get a second touch to get the ball into the back of the net. Delhi 1, Goa 0.
Goa FC kept probing but their strikers haven’t been prolific in front of goal, something that has cost them dear. Czech striker Slepicka had goal scoring opportunities but was wasteful in front of goal. Just as FC Goa seemed to be getting some momentum, Andre Santos couldn’t continue as he limped off uncomfortably. Substitute Afghan Haroon Amiri had the perfect chance to become an instant hero in front of the Goa faithful after he was found perfectly by a cross from Mandar but he somehow missed from three yards out! At the other end Junker had a chance to run clear on goal but was denied by Gregory Arnolin at the crucial moment. Next up was Bruno Arias who looked dangerous for the visitors as he displayed sublime skill to get past Das but couldn’t get a shot on from an otherwise tight angle.
The Goan comeback
As the teams emerged for the 2nd half, Zico’s words still seemed to ring in his players ears as they changed gears and looked to take the game to the Dynamos. Romeo Fernandes darted down the right flank , cut in and tried to shoot across the Delhi custodian Van Hout, but the goalkeeper was equally upto task as he made himself big and cut the angle for Fernandes with the ball going inches wide of the post.
Zico sensed his team were up for a challenge and replaced the injured Arnolin with Toglay Ozbey as the clock ticked the hour mark. The introduction of Del Piero by Delhi, did not cause too much of a problem for Goa as they continued their search for an equalizer. Goa FC had to wait until the 73rd minute to finally find the back of the net. Narayan Das picked up a loose ball and quickly released Mandar. The ensuing cross went past everyone in the box only for Romeo to head back into the danger area. Jewel Raja, who was somehow left unmarked sprung and glanced a header from the left of Van Hout and the cheers followed as the ball crossed the line. The home fans were suddenly full of voice as they sensed the game was not over.
As the game edged toward the 90 minute mark Goa’s Slepicka shot straight at the keeper after he grabbed onto a loose ball in the opposition half. The referee added six minutes of injury time and just when it looked like the points would be shared, substitute Ozbey latched onto Slepicka’s inch perfect lobbed pass only to comfortably round off the on-rushing Van Hout to send the crowd into raptures of delight ! The full time whistle was music to the ears of the fans with the final score 2-1 to the home side!
Delhi will look back at a game they definitely should have won. Goa’s resilience and ability to carve a way back into the game has to be praised. Zico’s half time team talk did wonders because they definitely were the better side in the 2nd half, and did something which they had not done previously-Taking their chances in front of goal !
Delhi will need to focus on getting this defeat off their mind. They have been playing consistently and maybe one could argue that after their first defeat that psychological pressure of being undefeated will not affect them anymore and they can concentrate on playing good football. The Dynamos travel to Mumbai next with the fixture scheduled on November 5th.