After back to back defeats, Goa finally got off their mark with a thumping 6-1 win over Odisha on Monday at the Mohun Bagan Ground to keep their semifinal hopes alive. In another game, Punjab came back from behind to beat Karnataka 2-1.
Goa, surprisingly, started off their campaign with 1-3 and 1-4 defeats against Mizoram and Karnataka respectively. With five-time I-League-winning coach Armando Colaco at the helm of affairs, things were not going as per expectations for the Western state.
But they came back strongly with a statement win against Odisha. Skipper Victorino Fernandes netted a hattrick and provided three assists to guide his team to glory.
The Goans needed a big win today if they wanted to keep their hopes alive in the tournament. Accordingly, they started the game on a positive note and looked hungry for goals. Victorino scored the opening goal in the 15th minute from Mackroy Peixeto's corner.
Odisha responded very quickly as they equalised within a minute. Arbin Lakra's cross was kept in play by Bhabagrahi Padhihary and Sunil Sardar tapped in to restore parity in the match.
The Eastern state, who were already out of competition, played positive football after scoring the equalising goal. But Victorino Fernandes scored the second goal at the stroke of half-time from Nestor Dias' cross.
Goa never looked back in the second half as they continued to pile the pressure on Odisha backline. Fernandes completed his hattrick in the 54th minute from Clinton Niasso's pass.
The captain then provided three assists from which Machroy Peixito, Shubert Jonas Perriera and Marcus Mascarenhas scored in the 59th, 71st and 85th minute to seal a memorable win for the Goans. Goa need to beat Punjab in their final match by at least two goals and hope Mizoram beat Karnataka in order to reach the last-four stage.
In the other game held at the Howrah Stadium, Punjab defeated Karnataka 2-1. The Southerners took the lead in the in the 7th minute when Rajesh S converted a penalty. The spot kick was awarded to Karnataka after Sunny brought down Leon Augustine inside the box.
Punjab went all guns blazing after conceding the early goal. Their attacking approach yielded them their equaliser in the 18th minute when Jitender scored from Gurtej Singh's pass.
Baltej Singh scored the second goal for the North Indian state in the 26th minute. The move was created by Paramjit Singh who went past two defenders at the edge of the box and squared the ball to Baltej who slotted it home.
The second half was nothing short of a snoozefest as neither team showed any intention to add to their tally.