Sporting Clube de Goa could have lived up to coach Vishwas Goankar’s expectation of registering their first win in this season’s I-League. But they let their guard down and their hopes lay in tatters at the Cooperage ground on Sunday.
After Junior Elijah had given the Goan club the lead in the 44th minute, they continued to hold the advantage till the 88th minute of this ninth round contest. But just when they looked like meeting their target, they let in two late goals and lost 1-2 to Mahindra United, who were not at their best.
The win propelled the Mumbai ‘Red Devils’ to the third position with 17 points, while the Goans, who suffered their fourth defeat, have just four points from eight games and continue to languish at the bottom of the 14-team league.
Mahindra started off shakily and their performance in the first session was mediocre. There was no cohesion between the midfielders and strikers and the defence too was not up to the mark.
On the other hand, Sporting Clube did not look like a team lying at the bottom. They played well within themselves and took the fight to the opposition. Strikers Elijah and Nathaniel Amos combined well with medio Michael Tayo to put pressure on the rival goal. Their efforts bore fruit when Elijah made the most of a lapse by Mahindra defender Nisthar Kalialaudeen, who failed to clear Kenji Arai’s long free-kick from the left.
After a pep talk from coach David Booth at the breather, the Mumbai champs lifted their game several notches.
But, despite controlling the proceedings they were unable to create an opening till the 88th minute. With things looking bleak, substitute Thoi Singh bailed Mahindra out with a low diving header off a Dias’ flag-kick. Later, Paresh Shivalkar found the back of the net with another header.