Margao: FC Goa squandered a 1-0 lead as they drew 1-1 with Chennaiyin FC in the first leg of their semi-final encounter at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium, Fatorda on Saturday.
Manuel Lanzarote put FC Goa in front in the 64th minute before Anirudh Thapa equalised in the 71st minute.
Going into the game, FC Goa had to make two forced changes with Edu Bedia replacing injured Hugo Boumas in the attacking midfield role and Laxmikant Kattimani brought back in goal after the suspension of Naveen Kumar.
Chennaiyin coach John Gregory had rested his key players in their final group game and fielded his full strength squad that counted to ten changes. The first half hour was a cagey affair with FC Goa not able to find their rhythm as the visitors were looking to stifle them.
FC Goa’s defence which is more often than not under scrutiny also held fort and Kattimani had to make only a few routine saves. It was Chennaiyin goalkeeper Karanjit Singh who had a slightly nervy moment when Mandar Desai tried a shot from distance straight at him.
The keeper spilled what looked to be a routine save. The home side’s attacking outlet was Manuel Lanzarote and Ferran Corominas who kept looking for holes in the Chennaiyin defence as they moved the ball around.
As half-time was approaching, Chennaiyin had a half chance when Gregory Nelson tried to shoot across goal but it went wide.
Early in the second, Kattimani made two brilliant saves to deny Chennaiyin. First from Jeje Lalpekhlua and then from Nelson, both from close range as the Goan side’s defence looked shaky.
However, their offensive instincts started to come into play.
Pronay released Coro down the right as the Spaniard beat the off-side trap brilliantly. He was about to pull the trigger but was closed down in time.
Lanzarote then took matters into his own hands as he broke the deadlock in the 64th minute. It all started as Mandar received a cross from the back. The winger controlled it and cut inside from the left before releasing it into the box.
Corominas tried to turn and shoot but his shot took a deflection of Chennaiyin skipper Henrique. The shot took out the Chennaiyin defenders including the goalkeeper and Lanzarote simply slammed it into the net.
However, Chennaiyin got back into the game with a 71st-minute equaliser. Gregory Nelson weaved his way towards the box edge of the box and quickly picked out substitute Anirudh Thapa down the right. The midfielder shot through the legs of Kattimani as they made it 1-1 and picked up a crucial away goal.