Sergio Lobera's team dazzled all through the season, showcasing impressive attacking football and winning hearts across the country. A 5-1 thrashing of Mumbai City in the first leg of the semi-final gave us an indication that Goa
Goa kept the Bengaluru attack at bay and vice versa. And it took 116 minutes for Bengaluru to break the deadlock. What changed in the second-half of extra time was the sending off of Ahmed Jahouh.
Even as Miku was repeatedly denied by an excellent Mourtada Fall, it is Ahmed Jahouh's presence in midfield that secured Goa's grip on the match. Jahouh was the only player willing to do the dirty work off the ball
It wasn't surprising either. Jahouh had dominated the ISL for two seasons in a row. The Moroccan midfield maestro has the played the most number of passes, touches and tackles this season. When he, quite stupidly, kicked out at Miku after the forward made a late challenge towards the end of the first half of extra time, Goa lost their anchor and the team was unsettled.
“The key moment of the match was when we went one man down in the extra time. I think it was a very tight game and it was going to be a matter of small details. The red card was a big handicap for us," Goa head coach Sergio Lobera said after the defeat.
The final 15 minutes was about Bengaluru's fight against a disorganized 10-man team. Without Jahouh, it was not just being a man down but also losing the player that held the defence and the attack together. A late goal became more plausible and it arrived in the form of an excellent Rahul Bheke header in the 117th minute.
Losing one of the most important players hurt Goa's chances and it was, as Sergio Lobera said, the turning point in a closely-contested final. After falling at the last hurdle twice, FC Goa's wait continues.