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Robin strikes for Dynamos

Delhi Dynamos played its heart out to post a 1-0 win over FC Goa in the first leg of their 2015 Hero Indian Super League semifinal at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Friday.

A header by rising star Robin Singh in the 42nd minute proved the decider in this robustly contested match where Dynamos was clearly the superior side. It defended stoutly and brought a stirring dash up front as FC Goa felt the pressures and tremors right through. The teams meet at Fatorda Stadium on Tuesday for the second leg.

Gustavo dos Santos was in electrifying form and led the Dynamos charge in front of 20,000-odd spectators. A deft run into the Goa box late in the second half took the game a notch higher. The pace that he worked and the ease with which he opened up gaps in the rival ranks was relished by the spectators in this farewell contest of the current edition at this venue.

Fresh tactics and untiring legs from both camps lit up the contest on a cold evening. The warmth came from constant inroads the innovating strikers made in the initial phase, the speed factor dominating the skills as Dynamos and Goa widened their areas of exploration. Obviously the defenders came under pressure but the final surge lacked the desired finish.

dos Santos was a busy man, shaking off his marker and finding his unguarded mate in open spaces created by canny shuffling of positions. Chicao and Riise worked craftily in the midfield even as Malouda preserved himself for counters.

It was a counter that nearly hit Goa hard when Santos broke in and the ball rolled to an onrushing Malouda. The hurried shot went wide but Dynamos drew confidence early in the match. Sabeeth made a mess of a header for Goa from a sensational cross into the goalmouth by Joffre.

Dynamos brought in Doblas, Chicao, Anas, dos Santos, Mama and Sehnaj for this contest even as Goa drafted in Kattimani, Raju, Narayan, Arnolin, Moura and Sabeeth. Dynamos believed in building its moves with some intricate play in the midfield before a sudden breakaway while Goa was unperturbed, looking to slow down the pace, breaking the moves outside the box.

The packed Goa defence, with the towering Lucio manning efficiently, left little space for the Dynamos strikers to get a clear view until Robin, challenged by the burly Brazilian, rose to win an aerial duel and knock in the ball, bouncing off the turf, in the 42nd minute. dos Santos had done the hard work and Chicao curled the floater that did the damage.

For Dynamos, it was sweet comeback from the 3-2 defeat against FC Goa in the concluding match of the league here last Sunday. This was a different game though. It gave Dynamos the psychological advantage ahead of their next meeting in Goa.

The result: Semifinal — 1st leg: Delhi Dynamos 1 (Robin Singh 42) bt FC Goa 0.

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