Margao (Goa), Feb 28 : FC Goa held Hyderabad FC to a goalless draw on Sunday at the Fatorda Stadium here to qualify for the playoffs of the Indian Super League (ISL).
A brilliant defensive performance from Ivan Gonzalez and some crucial saves from goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem were enough for Goa to get the point they needed. They were lucky not to concede late in the game and a good show from Hyderabad was not enough to stop Juan Ferrando’s men from qualifying for their fourth consecutive semifinals, extending their unbeaten run to 13 games.
Hyderabad remain unbeaten in the 12 matches they have played in 2021 but they had to settle for the fifth spot on the table.
Hyderabad missed the services of their regular scorer Aridane Santana upfront and Chinglensana Singh in defence, both of whom were serving suspensions. But they were up for the challenge and were able to match their opponents.
They made it difficult for Goa with incessant pressing all over the pitch and had a few chances in the opening minutes. What they lacked was the poacher’s instinct in the final third.
Goa, as usual, dominated the possession but they couldn’t convert the chances that came their way. The first half had zero shots on target as neither goalkeeper was called into action.
Both sides have scored more goals in the second half throughout the season and Goa rang in an early warning when Alberto Noguera set Redeem Tlang free on the left. The winger covered some distance and crossed to Alexander Jesuraj, who was late to react.
With Hyderabad trying to get the required goal to progress, tempers flared along with the pressure as Edu Bedia, Tlang and Joao Victor went into the referee’s books within a span of nine minutes.
Hyderabad had their best opportunity in the 84th minute. Victor chipped in a delightful ball into the box but Joel Chianese and Liston Colaco failed to head in from close range.
After being withdrawn, Lluis Sastre was shown a red card for throwing a bottle at the Goa bench. Noguera also received a yellow card and will miss the first leg of the playoffs.
Hyderabad nearly took the lead in the injury time but Gonzalez came with a crucial interception to deny Liston Colaco from scoring a simple tap-in. Later, Adil Khan almost scored an own goal but an alert Dheeraj pulled off a stunning save to send his team into the playoffs.