FC Goa had to toil hard, especially in the second half, to beat Kerala Blasters FC by a 3-2 scoreline in the ISL 2019-20 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Goa on Saturday.

Goa raced to a 2-0 lead in the first half through Hugo Boumous and Jackichand Singh in the first half but Kerala hit back twice through Messi Bouli and Bartholomew Ogbeche after the restart. Boumous scored his second of the night late in the contest to win it for Goa.

The victory sends Goa to the top of the Hero ISL table while Kerala stay eight with 14 points from as many games.

It was a frantic start to the contest with chances on both ends as the two sides looked to take the early advantage. Ferran Corominas even hit the back of the net with a lovely chipped finish within the first 10 minutes but it was ruled out due to offside. For Kerala, Bartholomew Ogbeche and Messi Bouli had a couple of half chances.

Goa came really close to opening the scoring in the 22nd minute after a Brandon Fernandes corner was headed goalwards by Mourtada Fall. The effort had TP Rehenesh in the Kerala goal beat but Ogbeche was at the right place in the right time to clear the danger off the line. Seconds later, Goa also saw a penalty appeal turned down after Corominas went down inside the Kerala box.

Goa, however, weren’t to be denied in the 26th minute. A long ball from the deep by Brandon set Mandar Rao Dessai free down the left flank. The Gaurs’ captain picked out an onrushing Hugo Boumous at the far post with a lovely cross and the Frenchman obliged by tapping it in to give the home side a 1-0 lead.

What ensued was an entertaining affair with both sides launching multiple forays into the opposition half. Goa, however, made the most of their chances just before half time. A clever passing move culminated in Corominas setting up Jackichand Singh for the second goal of the match as Goa took a 2-0 lead into the break.

Kerala took the initiative in the second half and pulled a goal back eight minutes after the restart. A nifty move involving Messi Bouli and Ogbeche resulted in the former getting behind the Goa defence. The Cameroonian finished past Mohammad Nawaz to make it 2-1. Minutes later, Kerala could have levelled things up as Messi found himself free on goal yet again but this time, Fall put in a crucial last-ditch challenge to deny the striker a second goal.

Kerala piled the pressure on and kept the Gaurs on the back foot, but Goa could have restored their two-goal advantage on the break. Jacki carried the ball inside the Kerala box and had Coro free inside the box to pass to.

The winger, however, decided to go for goal himself and skied his effort. In the 69th minute, the home team were made to lament the missed opportunity as Ogbeche found himself unmarked during a Sergio Cidoncha corner and made sure he made the erring Goa defence pay. He buried his header into the goal to make it 2-2.

Kerala continued pressing for the winner and almost found one through substitute Sahal Abdul Samad in the 81st minute. The youngster showcased some quick feet to make space for himself for a shot at the edge of the box. He let one fly but it was inches away.

Almost against the flow of the game, Goa scored their third of the night in the 83rd minute. Ahmed Jahouh’s deft chipped pass inside the box was met by Boumous, who did well to volley it over Rehenesh and into the net. The goal set up an entertaining conclusion to the match with Kerala throwing men forward in search of an equaliser and Goa creating chances on the counter-attack. The match ended 3-2 in Goa’s favour.