Hyderabad FC produced a steely performance on Saturday to show their title credentials once again. A 3-2 win against FC Goa in the 95th match of Indian Super League (ISL) 2021-22 means that Hyderabad continue to lead the points table with few rounds remaining in India's premier football league. (More Football News)
Hyderabad lost the top spot to ATK Mohun Bagan for a brief period on Saturday with the ISL hosting a rescheduled match between the three-time champions and their bitter rivals Kerala Blasters in the early kick-off.
But the day ended as it began for Hyderabad even as FC Goa pushed them until the end. A brace from Bartholomew Ogbeche and a goal from Joao Victor saw Hyderabad seal a big win. As for Derrick Pereira’s Gaurs, it was a second successive defeat that keeps them in the ninth position.
FC Goa started brightly but survived an early scare when Makan Chote tripped Nikhil Poojary who was darting towards the goal. The youngster escaped with a yellow card as the HFC players argued for a stricter punishment. The breakthrough came from Ogbeche (25’), who scored his 15th goal of the season with a precise header from Asish Rai’s cross. But it took just ten minutes for Goa to hit back, with Jorge Ortiz Mendoza (35’) producing a clinical finish in the bottom left corner, after pouncing on a scrumptious through ball from Alberto Noguera.
However, Ogbeche (41’) regained the lead for his team with his 16th goal of the season, a personal record. It was also the 51st goal in the all-time records for the Nigerian, which takes him above Sunil Chhetri and helped the Nizams go into the halftime break with a slender 2-1 lead.
The second half saw the Gaurs push with intent for the equaliser. Princeton Rebello came close with a volley that went narrowly past the target from long range.
But the Nizams increased the lead with a goal from skipper Joao Victor (70’), against the run of play, with a long ranger. Two minutes later, Devendra Murgaonkar (73’) scored with a seething header, justifying his appearance from the bench.
The final stages of the match saw masterful defending from Hyderabad. The defensive line was particularly disciplined, a characteristic of Manolo Marquez’s men.
Five minutes were added but they were not enough for the Gaurs as HFC took all three points and reached the top of the table.
Hyderabad FC play fellow top-four contenders Kerala Blasters FC in their next fixture at the Athletic Stadium on Wednesday whereas FC Goa will look to spoil Mumbai City FC’s quest for playoffs qualification at the same venue on Saturday.