FC Goa and Kerala Blasters played a late-season classic at the GMC Athletic Stadium on Sunday night. Already secured of their respective positions in the league, the two sides shared the points in an eight-goal thriller.
Already confirmed of the fourth position – and a playoff spot – Kerala Blasters faced FC Goa at the GMC Athletic Stadium, on Sunday night. Kerala raced into a two-goal lead early in the first half, but were stunned after Goa mounted a comeback in the second – led by substitute Airam Cabrera – and scored four in return. However, Ivan Vukomanovic’s men responded to Goa’s incredible fightback with one of their own late on, as they scored twice in two minutes to draw the match 4-4.
Jorge Pereyra Diaz gave Kerala the lead in the tenth minute, touching in a cross from Sahal Abdul Samad past reserve Goa goalkeeper Hrithik Tiwari. Things got worse for the Gaurs’ second-choice custodian in the 24th minute when he tripped Chencho Gyeltshen just as he was about to poke the ball into an empty net. Tiwari stayed on, the referee keeping his cards in his pocket, but was unable to prevent Pereyra Diaz from doubling his and the Blasters’ tally from the spot.
Airam came on as a half-time substitute, and within minutes had halved Goa’s deficit; the forward tapped in at the back post, a cross from Edu Bedia. The Spaniard, then, had a goal chalked off for offside in the 57th minute, but replays later showed him to be well within bounds when he had tucked into the net. Nevertheless, a foul from Givson Singh on Makan Chote presented the 34-year-old to restore parity from the spot, which he did with aplomb.
Goa took the lead through Aibanbha Dohling in the 79th minute, completing a remarkable resurgence. Dohling got the better of his marker to the left of the goal and curled the ball around the goalkeeper. Airam completed his hattrick three minutes later, scoring from the center of the box, and put the Gaurs 4-2 up on the night.
Kerala responded with a retort of their own. First, Vincy Barretto scored from close range in the 88th minute after being played in by Chencho to reduce the deficit, which was then compounded by Alvaro Vazquez, two minutes later, as he arrowed the ball into the far corner from the right of the goal. Four-all the game ended, capping off a remarkable season for Kerala – who still have the playoffs to go – and a disappointing one for Goa.