MARGAO: FC Goa took a big step towards qualifying for the semifinals of the Indian Super League with a clinical 3-0 win over NorthEast United FC at the Nehru Stadium in Fatorda, on Monday night.
Romeo Fernandes scored the 100th goal of the league to put the hosts in the lead in the 33rd minute before Czech striker Miroslav Slepicka added another in the stoppage time of the first half. Brazilian playmaker Andre Santos rounded off the tally with a clever finish in the 74th minute as the hosts romped to their third successive win.
With their second straight 3-0 win, FC Goa took their tally to 18 points from 12 matches and moved into second spot in the standings ahead of Atletico de Kolkata (17 points). The Goans trail league leaders Chennaiyin FC (22 points) by four points.
NorthEast are stuck at sixth place with 13 points and their task of qualifying for the last-four playoffs has become even more difficult with only six points on offer in their last two league matches. Zico’s FC Goa, on the other hand, can virtually assure themselves of a semifinal spot with a win in their next match away at leaders Chennaiyin on December 5.
FC Goa scored the first goal when Slepicka – given a start by Zico in place of Australian Tolgay Ozbey – played a perfect through pass into the path of Romeo, and the local boy made no mistake, with a precise finish past the far post to beat visiting keeper TP Rehenesh. The hosts soon doubled their lead with a classic counter-attacking goal. Keeper Jan Seda’s superb long throw found Romeo, who ran down the left and stretched the NorthEast defence. Although his cut-back was cleared, it ultimately fell to Bikramjit Singh, who set up Slepicka to slot home his fourth goal in three games, giving FC Goa a 2-0 half-time lead.
The visitors pushed hard to get back into the game in the second half and Koke nearly pulled one back, forcing Seda into a good save with a fiercely-struck shot. Goa could not be kept quiet for long, however, and they added another in the 74th minute. Narayan Das ran down the left and found Santos in the box. The Brazilian teased the NorthEast defence, holding the ball before creating just enough space to squeeze a shot past Rehenesh.