FC Goa play out enthralling draw with Rio Branco AC
Panaji, September 2016: FC Goa came from behind to claim a 2-2 draw in an enthralling match against Rio Branco AC on a sunny afternoon on the Espirito Santo Island. After conceding twice in the opening period, Zico’s side had an uphill task in the second half. However, Rafael Coelho scored midway through the second half for his first pre-season goal to give Goa a chance in the match and Lucio duly obliged with his first goal for the club to bring the teams level.
Zico continued to employ an attacking 3-5-2 formation and persisted with a three man defence of Lucio, Gregory Arnolin and Rafael Dumas. Denzil Franco and Fulganco Cardozo were used as wing backs as Sanjay Balmuchu got his first start. Richarlyson also started alongside Sanjay with Rafael and Robin Singh leading the attack. It was a disastrous start for Zico’s men who found themselves down by a goal in only the fifth minute. Denzil conceded a free-kick just outside the area and an opposition attacker netted with ease. Things went from bad to worse in the 8th minute when Gregory went down with a muscle injury. He had to be replaced by Luciano Sobrosa. As the half petered on, the Indian side tried to get a foothold on the game. However, on the stroke of half time, a swift counter attack saw an opposition striker 1 on 1 against Laxmikant Kattimani and he duly netted to double the Brazilians’ lead.
Once again, Goa had a mountain to climb ahead of the second half. Romeo Fernandes was brought on, along with Julio César and Reinaldo in the second half. The changes seemed to work as Goa got more and more involved in the game as the half wore on. The players began to combine well and move forward with purpose. The trio of Romeo, Rafael and Reinaldo gave the attack a different dimension. Mandar Rao Dessai was brought on for Fulganco midway through the half to help out in attack. Goa finally got reward for their persistence when a beautifully weighted corner by Trindade Goncalves who replaced Richarlyson, fell to the head of Rafael who glanced the ball home to give FC Goa a fighting chance.
The pacy Goan duo of Romeo and Mandar kept the pressure up and just six minutes later, another corner lead to the equaliser. The ball from the corner was initially cleared but it fell to Sanjay who lobbed the ball over the defence superbly to Lucio who smashed home the equaliser on his second attempt after the initial shot was blocked. FC Goa then held on for the draw.
Zico’s side will go on to play Brazilian heavyweights CR Flamengo in their next pre-season fixture on 22nd September. The squad will fly back to Goa on 25th September ahead of the opening ceremony of the third season of the Indian Super League in Guwahati on 1st October 2016.