Margao (Goa), Dec 3 (IANS) Rowllin Borges scored in the first-half injury time as FC Goa defeated Kerala Blasters 1-0 and regained the top spot in the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 at the Fatorda Stadium here on Sunday. The win in the top-of-the-table clash helped FC Goa move to 19 points from seven matches, overtaking Kerala Blasters 17 points to second spot.
FC Goa have unearthed a gem in the creative acumen of Victor Rodriguez, with the Spaniard unleashing his accurate passes, set-piece deliveries, and crosses that have frequently resulted in goal-scoring opportunities.
But before getting to that, Kwame Peprah, 22, missed a sitter in the eighth minute when he got past Sandesh Jhingan and had a wonderful chance to get Kerala Blasters ahead in the game.
The Ghanaian ended up shooting off-target from the right-hand side of the box, much to the dismay of the visitors. It was an open opportunity to take the lead in this tightly fought encounter, and at some point, it must have dawned upon Ivan Vukomanovic that they would have to pay for it.
That moment came during the added time of the first half, with FC Goa earning a free-kick on the right flank. Quite expectedly, Rodriguez took the set-piece and his delivery met an unmarked Rowllin Borges inside the 18-yard box.
Borges, who had netted only nine times in 109 ISL appearances across eight seasons before this, carefully placed the ball into the back of the net as the home team secured the all-important lead before heading into the half-time break.
Unfortunately, the midfielder picked up a knock whilst striking the ball and had to be substituted for the incoming Udanta Singh straightaway.
Kerala Blasters were riding high lately, with their attack clicking cohesively in their home games. In Goa, they held the majority of the possession (51.2%) and took nine shots across the 90-odd minutes. However, the finishing touch that they pride upon was missing on Sunday night.
Sandesh Jhingan of FC Goa was the player of the match as the central defender delivered a worthy performance against the club that propelled him to fame in professional football.
He was a rock at the back for FC Goa, recording seven clearances, completing 22 out of his 30 passes, and often being an aerial threat that kept the Kerala Blasters FC backline on their toes during set-pieces.
FC Goa will face Mumbai City FC in their next match at the Fatorda Stadium on December 12, whereas Kerala Blasters will take on Punjab FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi on December 14.
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