Playing in front of their home crowd at the Fatorda Stadium, FC Goa got the better of Indian Super League debutants Punjab FC 1-0 on Monday.
In a match dominated by the Gaurs with as many as 18 shots on target, it was Spaniard Carlos Martinez’s 17th minute strike which proved to be one too many for Punjab FC.
Martinez was oblivious to the proceedings for the opening 15 minutes. However, he immediately sniffed a goal-scoring opportunity initiated by midfielder Carl McHugh, who won the ball and played a short pass to Raynier Fernandes.
The 27-year-old Fernandes collected it with a deft first touch and played a quick through ball to Martinez, who got to the ball on the move and slotted it into the back of the net on the bottom right corner with the outside of his right foot.
Goa came close to doubling the lead within five minutes of that strike, but Morcoccan Noah Wail Sadaoui’s shot landed on the outside of the net.
Sadaoui, 30, was at the centre of a couple of notable attacking moves after that. He quickly got to the end of a loose ball to play a lobbed cross to Martinez in the 27th minute. The Spaniard couldn’t head it powerfully into the back of the net.
Towards the end of the first half, Sadoui squandered a fairly easy goal-scoring chance as he failed to tap the ball past Punjab goalkeeper Kiran Chemjong after receiving it from the left flank.
As for Punjab FC, their skipper Luka Majcan came agonisingly close to levelling the scores at the 65th minute but was denied, thanks to an off-side.
The Gaurs consolidated their backline in the final quarter of the game to hold on to the lead and bag a victory in their opening fixture of the ISL 2023-24.