The most awaited Goan football season started with the Capital City Derby.
Defending champions Sporting Clube de Goa began their Goa Pro League 2021-22 campaign with an easy 3-1 win over Panjim Footballers in the match played at Duler Stadium on Saturday evening.
Clive Miranda Gave Sporting an early lead, while Rohit Totad doubled it in the 20th minute. The Flaming Orange added another early in the second half through Akeraj Martins, while Irafn Yadwad reduced the margin for the capital city side.
The first few minutes of the match witnessed an end-to-end affair, but it were Sporting who managed to capitalize on their first chance of the match in the sixth minute. Girish Naik’s perfect corner was brilliantly connected by their veteran forward Marcus Mascarenhas. Panjim keeper Preston Rego made a breathtaking save, but he could not prevent the ball from going in, as an unmarked Clive Miranda easily slotted the ball into the back of the net.
Sporting continued to dominate and doubled their lead in the 20th minute. Panjim’s clearance reached Dattaraj Gaonkar, who found Rohit Totad with a defence-splitting through pass. The winger made no mistake from close to make it 2-0.
Panjim also had a chance to reduce the margin just after conceding the second goal. Arif Pathan sent a long pass to forward Irfan Yadwad in the box, but he could not keep his header on target. Whereas, the Flaming Orange should have further extended their lead in the 25th minute. Marcus found himself with just Panjim keeper Preston to beat, but the custodian made a brilliant save to deny the Sporting forward.
However, Sporting took just three minutes in the second half to inflate their lead. Midfielder Rio Fernandes snatched the ball from a Panjim defender and passed it to Akeraj Martins. He made a swift run to enter the box and calmly finished at the far post to make it 3-0.
At the other end, the capital city side finally managed to reduce the margin in the 53rd minute. Sporting’s Girish made a defensive error near the box. A Panjim midfielder snatched the ball from him and passed it to forward Irfan, who blasted it into the goal from inside the box to make it 3-1.
A few minutes later, Panjim made another raid on their rivals and this time Lokeshwar Kumar Talwar tried his luck from distance, only to see it miss by a whisker. Sporting also came close to scoing their fourth goal a few minutes later. Girish came up with a perfect free-kick from the left flank, but Liston Cardozo saw his header rebound off the crossbar from point-blank range.