FC Goa racing clear at the top but alarm bells keep ringing for Sergio Lobera


Three points clear at the top with three more games to play - After the 4-2 win over Odisha FC on Wednesday, FC Goa are making a strong claim to nail down the top spot in the league stages of the ongoing Indian Super League (ISL) season.

With ATK and Bengaluru FC, Goa's rivals for that first position, having to negotiate a slightly trickier run in including a game against each other, Goa will fancy themselves to create history by becoming the first Indian club to make it to the group stages of the AFC Champions League.

However, they will have to address a worrying trend which was so very evident in Wednesday's win at the Kalinga stadium.

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FC Goa have a tendency to switch on and off during phases. When they turn it on, the Gaurs are devastating in attack and they tend to score in clumps. Just like they did against Odisha. Three goals in six minutes in the first half literally sealed the result for them.

Of course, the first goal had a bit of fortune about it with Edu Bedia's free-kick taking a wicked deflection off Vinit Rai while the second goal was contentious as well. Ferran Corominas was in the goalkeeper's line of sight from an offside position while he tried to evade Jackichand Singh's shot and the goal should've been disallowed. The third was a classic Goa goal that seemed to have knocked the wind out of Odisha's sails.

But as has been the case with Sergio Lobera's team lately, they took their foot off the pedal and allowed a bit of complacency to creep in. That allowed Odisha, clueless in attack till then and giving away the ball frequently in possession, a route back in to the game.

Xisco Hernandez and Vinit Rai started to get more on the ball and they should have had a goal back before half-time when Manuel Onwu's strike after a clever Odisha move was unjustly ruled out for offside.

Manuel Onwu Odisha FC Goa ISL 6
Manuel Onwu Odisha FC Goa ISL 6

That should have served as wake up call for Goa but it did not and Odisha's resurgence continued after the break. Onwu, who struggled to lead Bengaluru FC's attack in the first half of the season, looked very threatening with Odisha inviting him to attack crosses into the box. And he responded with two fine headers that almost allowed Odisha to get something from the game.

But as is often the case, Goa's pacy attackers found a way to score yet another late goal from a counter-attack, with Coro notching his 50th goal for the club to seal the result.

This was exactly what happened against Chennaiyin FC for Goa. They were 3-0 up at half-time before allowing the opponents to get two goals back before somehow winning the tie 4-3. The same occurred in their 3-2 win over Kerala Blasters were they allowed Eelco Scahttorie's men to claw back from 2-0 down to 2-2 before Boumous scored the winner. It had happened against Mumbai City as well, in a 4-2 victory.

FC Goa have conceded 16 goals in second half of matches, most by any team this season. Lobera's teams are never known to be water-tight defensively and it is no secret that he depends on his prolific frontmen to win matches. However, the inability to hold on to considerable leads that the attack provides could come to haunt them in a crucial game.

Fortunately, it has not happened so far. But the alarm bells must surely be ringing in Lobera's ears.


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