FC Goa put on a flawless display to beat I-League champions Chennai City FC 3-0 in the first semi-final of the Hero Super Cup at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneshwar on Tuesday.
The result sends the Gaurs through to the final of the knockout tournament, where they will face the winner of Wednesday’s match between ATK and Chennaiyin FC.
The result brought an end to Chennai City’s brilliant run in the tournament, which saw them knock out FC Pune City and Indian Super League champions Bengaluru FC.
With Edu Bedia out with a suspension, Hugo Boumous was drafted into the FC Goa starting XI by head coach Sergio Lobera. Chennai City boss Akbar Nawas, on the other hand, made two changes to the team which started the quarter-final tie against Bengaluru FC. Charles Lourdusamy came in for the suspended Michael Regin in midfield, while Alexander Romario Jesuraj was handed a start in place of Ameerudeen Haja.
Goa asked early questions of the Chennai defence, with Jackichand Singh finding space down the right wing and making a nuisance of himself with his quick feet and unpredictable runs inside the box.
The Gaurs came out with a positive mindset and their quick silky passing pegged Chennai back.
Seriton Fernandes and Zaid Krouch came close to scoring in the first 15 minutes. The former’s shot at goal was deflected wide while Krouch’s deflected shot from range needed a fingertip save from Chennai custodian Mauro Boerchio to stay out.
Goa kept on turning the screws and their dominance finally paid off in the 25th minute as Jacki found Ferran Corominas in the box. With the Spaniard’s back turned towards the goal, it seemed the Chennai backline had enough time to position themselves to cut off the angles.
However, Charles clattered into Coro, leaving the referee with no choice but to point towards the spot. Boerchio denied Sunil Chhetri from the penalty spot in their last match, but Coro calmly executed an audacious Panenka to beat the Italian.
Chennai City tried to up the ante to find a quick equaliser, but it was Goa who found the second goal. The Jacki-Coro partnership was at the centre of the move yet again. The Indian winger whipped in a cross from the right, which took a deflection off Sriram B. The ball kindly fell for Coro, who did extremely well to make the space for a shot and beat Boerchio again with a low angled shot.
Chennai City began the second half on the front foot and threw numbers forward in search of a way back into the game. However, the Gaurs backline held strong to deny the I-league side any room in the attacking third.
Chennai’s attacking approach also opened up the game, leaving plenty of space at the back for Goa to exploit on the counter.
Both teams continued creating half-chances as the game progressed past the hour-mark. Chennai were in desperate need for a goal and almost found one through Romario Jesus on the 66th minute. The winger skipped past multiple challenges and pulled the trigger from 30-yards-out. Unfortunately for Chennai, the ball came off the crossbar.
Three minutes later, things got worse for Nawas and Co. Boumous received the ball in the midfield and set Brandon Fernandes free. The winger put on his afterburners, ran onto the through pass and calmly slotted it past Boerchio to make it 3-0 for Goa.