BAMBOLIM: Goa survived the scare of disqualification from the Santosh Trophy, squeezing past ten men Services 2-1 in their last Group A encounter at the GMC, stadium, Bambolim on Monday.
Goa were saved by two late strikes in four minutes to register their second win in four matches and make it to the semifinals to meet Kerala. The story on Monday has been similar to the stories before. Pathetic football by a team unable to combine.
Goa needed a draw to qualify but fell into arrears in the seventh minute when Services Arjun Tudu on receiving a ball on the left dodged past Goa’s Nicolau , cut into the box and sent in a shot that brroked no response from goalkeeper Bruno Colaco.
Bruno was the third goalkeeper tried by coach Mateus Costa in Goa’s fourth and last match and had it not been for some fine saves by him, the result could have gone Services way. Services had two gilt edged chances in the first session to enhance their lead. Once, Herojith shot in but he was hauled for being off side and on the second goalkeeper Bruno came of his guard to thwart the Service’s striker from scoring.
Goa’s Aaren D Silva who had a poor day missed a sitter in the first and had his feet on a couple of opportunities in the second.
Goa was given a lifeline in the second half when Services captain Rary Raj was sent off for his second yellow. With just ten men to beat, Goa continued to play as though they were at a disadvantage, waiting for a goal to lap on them instead of going for goal.
Miss passes, inability to trap, inability to accelerate the pace and inability to read, to whom to pass the ball, were some areas that Goa will need to ponder over as they prepare to face Kerala in the semifinals.
Leading by the early goal, Services started the second half substituting a midfielder with a defender. They did try to slow the place during the second session and relied heavily on counter forays.
Both teams started with the 4-4-2 formation but it was the Servicemen who were more assertive in holding, passing and moving the ball. As in the past three games, Goa appeared lost at sea with the ball lying in the midfield with neither Liston Colaco nor Aaren D Silva being able to make an impact.
Liston was tightly marked and whenever he created opportunities for his colleagues they appeared to lack creativity in capitalizing on the opportunities fed their way.
Cajetan Fernandes scored the match winner in the closing stages of the match as he pushed the ball past an out of position Services goalkeeper Vishnu VK. Vishnu, otherwise, kept the ball away from the Services citadel with his timely interventions.