Two second half goals in the space of five minutes enabled five-time winners Goa to pocket three points from a 2-1 win over Chhatttisgarh in the opening Group ‘D’ match at the Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium here on Thursday. In a match that was played in fits and starts, Goa shaded the exchanges, both at the start and the end, to return the happier side from a miserable encounter.
After a goalless first session, midfielder Inacio Colaco and striker Velito D’Cruz scored, in the 63rd and 68th minutes respectively, to put the Goans in the comfort zone before Ram Ishwar Mahato pulled one back for Chhattisgarh in the closing minutes.
The opening goal itself was symbolic of the scrappy affair as Colaco’s hopeful diagonal right-footer from distance took a deflection off a defender to sneak in past a wrong-footed Gurpreet Singh under the Chhattisgarh bar. Later, D’Cruz slammed in a right footer from a more central position that beat the keeper hands down, to make it 2-0 for Goa.
The losing sheen of the tournament and the unsporting spirit of Kochi was evident in equal measure as the the once prestigious national championship got off to a low-key start in its Kochi-leg. A few hundred spectators, at best, were in attendance for the match.