There are two ways to view this game just gone by. The first (The Tale of Two Penalties) is a simplistic reading of the game. One that puts the focus of this sporadically entertaining affair on the referee. That reading will no doubt be FC Goa’s preferred narrative. When you can’t win, complain.
In this case the complaint does hold up. Disregarding the hypotheticals of the result, it is worth arguing that Carl McHugh’s cynical and blatant push on Jorge Mendoza in the ATK Mohun Bagan box was as deserving of a spot kick as Aibanbha Dohling’s daft sliding tackle to bring down Roy Krishna a few minutes later. It was a simple case of like for like. In a simple world it would’ve meant one Goan substitute won them a penalty, only for another to give one away. But it wasn’t to be. Krishna dispatched his spot kick in the 85th to give ATKMB their most repeated victory of this ISL season. 1-0 via a Roy Krishna goal in the last 10 minutes.
It makes for dull watching. You will be forced to stifle yawns aplenty through the 90 minutes. Except why bother. Yawn away. Antonio Habas probably wants you to. Because that’s how they catch you — mid yawn, looking stupid, forced into a mistake.
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The second narrative starts here. Right here. This is what ATKMB’s game plan seems to be isn't it? Play the game with one hand on the steering wheel for as long as you can. In the last 10, shift a gear, put the meter down and play the ball to the Fijian up front.
But this will also disregard the opening 45 minutes when magically it felt some Freaky Friday had been played at the opening whistle. ATKMB were playing the slick passes, moving the ball around briskly, going wide, going narrow, looking like a home team playing at home (which they technically were seeing as the Fatorda is actually their home ground for this season; a fact the commentators never let up on) and FC Goa, despite the possession, were doing that long ball counter attacking football you don’t expect from them. When they had the ball they played it laterally, slowly, lumbering and being pressed down hard and fast by Krishna, David Williams and Manvir Singh.
In that half, Goa did little to affect Arindam Bhattacharya’s goal, and yet, Edu Bedia ended up with a pretty glaring open header that went wide. ATKMB on the other hand, hit the post from distance, blazed over from distance, saw it saved when inside the box, but didn’t do enough to create a chance that would juice the half time highlight show.
Juan Ferrando must’ve had some harsh words at halftime. Goa came out faster off the blocks and were definitely moving the ball with more purpose in the second half. His substitutions almost made them work too. Till one of them didn’t.
With the game almost out of their grasp came the last ditch offensive, ball thrown to Brandon Fernandes, who swung it into the box at will. ATKMB know how to suffer though. Bodies were thrown in the way, clearances were made long and hard. The three points had to be won.
With the last kick of the game, came another Brandon corner, swung in beautifully to Edu Bedia near the penalty spot, who rose perfectly to meet it. On any other day, it would’ve glanced off his head and nestled in the far corner of the goal. But on this day of ‘one nil roy krishna scores’ it went wide. Habas’ men are second in the standings, locked on points with Mumbai City, but with a lower goal difference. Goa stay stuck in the middle. Which is a perfect metaphor for what they are if ever there was one.
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