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Super Cup: FC Goa stay in semi-final contention with 1-0 win over Gokulam Kerala

Kozhikode (Kerala) : FC Goa edged a nervy encounter against Gokulam Kerala FC at the EMS Corporation Stadium, winning 1-0, here on Friday.It was FC Goa captain Iker Guarrotxena, who made the difference for his side with a 90th minute strike, a goal that keeps the Gaurs’ chances of making it to the semi-finals of the Hero Super Cup afloat in Group C.
The two sides had a fair share of goalscoring opportunities throughout the game. FC Goa came twice close to scoring in the first 15 minutes.In the 8th minute, Noah Sadaoui’s cross from a free-kick in the attacking half was met by a towering header by Fares Arnaout.
But the Syrian defender’s attempt hit the wrong side of the post and fell back into play and eventually, the Gokulam Kerala defence cleared it.Guarrotxena followed it up with another chance in the 13th minute.
However, the Spaniard headed the ball wide of the target as the scoreline remained 0-0.The Malabarians too almost found a breakthrough once in the 17th minute via Farshad Noor. The Afghan midfielder went on to beat the opposition goalkeeper to hit the back of the net, but the referee blew his whistle for an offside.
After switching sides, the hosts had a golden opportunity to take the lead in the game. Julian Omar Ramos set up a wonderful through ball for Sourav. The forward’s effort across the goal was just inches from both, going in off the far post, and from the feet of an onrushing Samuel Konney, who himself bundled into the net in despair.
The Gaurs marched forward and displayed some good passages of play in the second half. Makan Winkle Chothe held possession of the ball on the right flank and went for glory. But Malabarians goalkeeper Shibinraj Kunniyil did well to block his shot and followed it up with another save from Saviour Gama’s attempt.
In the 55th minute, the home team put the ball in the back of the net, this time through Sreekuttan VS. But the referee once again rightly called for an offside as the scoreline remained unchanged.As the two sides looked ready to settle for a goalless draw, FC Goa’s foreign duo Sadaoui and Guarrotxena combined to score the winning goal.
At the stroke of the 90th minute, Abdul Hakku lost possession of the ball in a dangerous area and Sadaoui led the counter-attacking move.Gokulam custodian Shibinraj managed to block Sadaoui’s effort, but the ball fell into Guarrotxena’s feet, as the latter calmly slotted it home to give his side a late 1-0 lead and ensured crucial three points for Carlos Pena’s men.
The win means FC Goa still stand a chance to make it through to the semi-finals as they face ATK Mohun Bagan in their final game of Group C. On the other hand, Gokulam Kerala will be hoping to bow out of the tournament on a positive note when they face Jamshedpur FC on April 18.



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