The Greens suffered the first defeat of the season after remaining unbeaten in the last seven matches.
Panjim Footballers played their heart out to end Salgaocar FC’s unbeaten streak with a 1-0 win in the Goa Pro League match played at Duler Stadium on Saturday. Joyson Gauncar came off the bench to score the winner for the capital city side in the 81st minute.
Panjim coach Alex Alvares made two changes to his side which held Vasco SC to a 1-1 draw in the last match. Defender Liston Cardozo and Vallmicky Miranda were back in the XI. Whereas, Salgaocar coach Levino Pereira also made the same number of changes following a 1-1 draw against Sporting Clube de Goa in the previous match. Defender Perry Pereira and midfielder Antush Moniz were the new faces in the Greens’ lineup.
It was drab football in the first half from both Panjim Footballers and Salgaocar, except for a controversial decision from referee Prasad Surlakar in the 19th minute. Salgaocar’s Prathamesh Satardekar brought down Panjim’s Krishna Gawas just inside the box, but the referee, despite being in a position to quickly point towards the spot, awarded a free-kick to Panjim at the edge of the box. The Panjim players along with their officials protested against the referee’s decision, but he didn’t even consider consulting his assistants. Lloyd Cardozo stepped forward to take the set-piece, but could not keep his strike on target as the ball sailed over the crossbar.
The capital city side had another opportunity to take the lead in the 45th minute. Krishna made a darting run and easily cut past a defender in the box to find Lloyd with a smart cut-back, but the lad saw his powerful strike nicely blocked by Salgaocar keeper Jason D’Mello.
Failing to score, Salgaocar coach Levino brought-in his super-sub Stephen Satarkar at half time and the forward had a golden opportunity to put his team ahead within 30 seconds of the restart. Midfielder Ribhav Sardesai tried to find his teammate Steflon D’Costa, but Panjim keeper Preston Rego came off his line to clear the ball. The clearance hit Steflon and landed to unmarked Stephen in the box, but the substitute forward shot over the crossbar with the rival keeper completely out of position.
This was the only opportunity for the Greens in the entire match, as the rest of the half witnessed Panjim penetrating the opposition with continuous attacks. First, Alent Colaco made a through pass to Lloyd whose strike found the side netting from close range.
Panjim almost took the lead in the 68th minute when Lloyd danced past two opponents to enter the box and tried his luck with a sparkling shot, but Salgaocar custodian Jason came up with a diving save. Panjim substitute Joyson Gauncar put the loose ball into the empty net. However, the forward failed to beat the offside trap, as the assistant referee disallowed the goal.
A few minutes later, Joyson made an individual run cutting past three defenders in the box and went for glory from the acute angle, only to see it rebound off the crossbar and hit the rival keeper Jason before going out for a corner. Joyson had another opportunity to take his side into the lead in the 75th minute. Lloyd made an excellent run on the right flank and cut it back to the forward whose strike just missed the target.
After wasting numerous opportunities, Panjim finally sealed the match in the 81st minute. Substitute forward Cyril Dias made a curling cross to Joyson, whose header kissed rival keeper Jason’s gloves before finishing in the net.
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Congratulations. An important win for Panjim coach Alex Alvares and his footballers.