Irfan Yadwad scored a hat-trick for Panjim Footballers.

Panjim Footballers qualified to the quarter-finals of the Goa Police Cup 2021, with an easy 5-0 win over St. Anthony SC at the Duler Stadium in Mapusa, Goa on Monday. Irfan Yadwad, Lokeshwar Talwar and Joyson Gauncar scored for the club from the capital city.

Ahead of the game, Panjim’s coach Ajay Acharya made four changes to his side, who were beaten by Churchill Brothers in their last Goa Pro League 2021 match. Lakesh Gawas, Akash Sanadi, Irfan Yadwad and Max Vicente were given the nod by Acharya. Meanwhile, St. Anthony SC side fielded most of their young players including Mayuresh Naik, Dattaraj Pednekar, Vipul Pednekar, Sahil Pomburphekar and Lavnya Shirodkar.  

Both the sides started the match on an equally attacking note. The first 10 minutes of the clash was an end-to-end affair, where both teams had good opportunities to take the lead.

In the 12th minute, Panjim’s Irfan found himself in a 1-v-1 situation with rival ‘keeper Vinit Agarwadekar after receiving a brilliant through-pass into the penalty box. However, his goal-bound strike was pushed out for a corner by Agarwadekar. Lokeshwar Talwar then sent in a perfect corner to Chandan Gawas at the far post, but the midfielder tapped it wide from point-blank range.

They eventually managed to break the deadlock in the 22nd minute. Lokeshwar made a solo effort this time around, dribbling past a couple of defenders and easily beating St. Anthony SC’s goalkeeper from inside the box to give Panjim Footballers the lead.

At the other end, the GFA First Division outfit also had a couple of opportunities, as Mayursh came in first with a fine cross from the left flank. Panjim’s defence failed to clear the danger and taking advantage of the defensive lapse, Vipul went for glory from inside the box. His header, however, was too weak and it did not trouble goalkeeper Joe Benre. St. Anthony SC had another opportunity on the half hour mark, as Kedar Dhargalkar sent a pinpoint cross to Dattaraj Pednekar in the box. This time, the midfielder could not keep his header on target, as the ball went over the crossbar for a goal-kick.

Panjim doubled their lead in the 33rd minute, as Chandan easily danced past two opponents to enter the box and found Irfan with a cut-back. The forward produced a clinical finish into the net. Two minutes later, they had another golden chance when Agarwadekar brought down Irfan in the box to give away a penalty. However, Irfan shot wide and wasted the opportunity.

Just 50 seconds into the second half, Irfan rectified his mistake from earlier and scored his second goal. Chandan registered the assist.

Panjim Footballers’ coach Ajay then brought in Franky Oliveira, but the forward did not last long on the pitch. His foul against an opposition player forced referee Sainath Haldankar to pull out the red card and hence, Oliveira hit the dressing room showers early.

For a while, St. Anthony SC looked like they would take advantage of the extra man on the pitch. They came close to scoring on two occasions, as Pushparaj Mandrekar headed right at the crossbar, before Panjim custodian Joe palmed away another headed attempt from him.

Panjim Footballers added two more goals in the last 15 minutes. Irfan initially found substitute Joyson Gauncar in the box with a perfect pass and the latter scored to make it 4-0 in their favour, before the former took charge and completed his hat-trick with a sublime finish just before the final whistle.

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