There is a lot of difference between Delhi and Goa in terms of spectator involvement in football. While Delhi is like other Indian cities, where cricket takes precedence over football, Goa is comparable to Kolkata, Kerala and Guwahati. In these cities, a football game is as eagerly awaited as a cricket match and therefore, when Delhi Dynamos came face to face with FC Goa on Saturday at Margaon’s Jawaharlal Nehru stadium, you couldn’t have found a vacant seat despite Goa’s poor ISL performance in the League so far. While the jubilant Goans went home with smiles on their faces, two things happened with the match result; Goa scored their maiden triumph in five outings, while Delhi tasted defeat for the first time in five matches. The celebratory mood in Goa was heightened because the victory was achieved just as the final whistle was about to be blown. The Delhi team had landed in Goa in search of their first ISL victory and since Goa languished at the bottom of the points’ table, the Delhi managers would have thought that the time was ripe to add another victory to their tally. DD were unbeaten so far with a win against Chennaiyin FC at home but posted three draws in the other three matches. The best result for FC Goa thus far was a drawn away game against North East United in Guwahati on October 19. But they have lost in all their other games.
Goa’s Brazilian coach Zico made three changes. He brought in Mandar Rao Desai, Romeo Fernandes and Jewel Raja, all of whom justified their inclusion by combining superbly in the second half and put Delhi under tremendous pressure. Goa started off promisingly and raided the Delhi goal area as the match began. The hosts could have gone ahead if the striker Miroslav Slepicka had not failed to convert two golden chances in the opening minutes. Delhi took these attacks on their stride and created some counter-attack opportunities themselves. Such tactics caught the Goan defense on the wrong foot and DD succeeded in taking the lead in the 7th minute, when Junker scored from a superbly orchestrated move by Hans Mulder. The ball was collected by Mulder and he relayed it to Bruno Herrero Arias on the right flank. Bruno saw Mads Junker in a perfect position as he sent a cross bang in front of the goalmouth. Skipper Junker slid the ball into the goal to put DD 1-0 ahead. The early goal brought a deathly silence in the packed stadium but the crowd soon started cheering their heroes. Goa made several attempts but couldn’t find the equalizer until the end of the first half. In between the home team lost their star play-maker Andre Santos, who got injured while tackling with DD’s Stijin Houben. But FC Goa continued to make some promising moves. The tale of missed chances, however, continued as a header from Slepicka got deflected by a DD defender and Jewel Raja missed a straightforward chance, when he had received a beautiful cross from right by Romeo Fernandes.
When the teams came back after the breather, FC Goa made several moves to find an equalizer, which came finally in the 72nd minute, when Mandar Rao sent a floating cross from left that found Fernandes. Seeing that Shaikh Jewel Raja was near the goal mouth, Fernandes headed the ball in the direction of Jewel Raja, who made no mistake in slotting the ball to the far post. The equalizer brought new energy to the team and they went all out for the winner. Until the end of the regulation time, no more goals could be scored by either side. Six minutes of injury time was added and Goa took full advantage by attacking the Delhi goal area. Three minutes into the injury time, a rapid move was made by Goa from the middle, when Slepicka fed a delicate ball to the substitute Tolgay Ozbey. The striker took the ball on his chest, tricked the DD goalkeeper Van Hout and drove home to steal a victory for his side. The stadium erupted in a frenzy of joy that marked the first victory for the hosts in the Hero Indian Super League. For their next game on November 6, FC Goa will travel to Kochi while Delhi Dynamos will go to Mumbai on November 5 for an away game.