He's jogging along behind you, and you're not worried. You know you can outpace him, outmuscle him. Nothing about the short, slightly rotund man suggests that you -- big mountain of a centre back that you are -- need to worry. Then, with the ball in your defensive third, he takes a step to your left, another couple to your right and suddenly he's gone. Before you can start to worry, you see a flash of orange in front of you, and the ball moving towards the bottom corner of the net. It takes a moment to process just what has happened.
Marking Angulo is arguably the toughest job in Indian football right now (right after coaching East Bengal's Indian players) and Kerala Blasters' defence found that out the hard way on Sunday at the Fatorda. He scored two of Goa's three, and the first was a fine distillation of his best qualities.
Saviour Gama released him with a lovely dink over his shoulder and Angulo ran onto it, Bakary Kone caught out by his movement. As he entered the box, he held off the much bigger Costa Nhamoinesu and seeing Albino Gomes come inexplicably charging off his line calmly chipped him. It was deft, and it was beautiful.
The second came from that uncanny ability that the best poachers seem to have, the ability to make themselves invisible, to blend in even when clad in bright orange. Gomes made a routine catch off a hopeless cross, rolled it forward, and Angulo simply walked onto it and rolled it past him into an empty net. Ludicrous goalkeeping, grade A finishing.
In and amongst those two goals, Angulo put in another clinic in playing-off-the-shoulder, be-in-the-right-place-at-the-right-time centre forward play as Goa saw off the Blasters for their first win of the season.
He was a constant threat, pegging the Kerala defence back, straying offside till he no longer was, running onto through balls from both those behind him and those in front of him (no, seriously, words do not suffice to explain just how poor the passing-out-of-the-back from Kerala was), hitting the woodwork once and, of course, the back of the net twice.
The directness of the two men behind him helped -- Brandon Fernandes with his head-up, defence-splitting forward passing and Jorge Ortiz with his tenacious, tough-to-stop running. The two combined for Goa's other goal using those very same qualities, Brandon slipping in Ortiz with a sublime disguised pass, Ortiz placing his finish into the corner. Without them, Angulo's movement is wasted -- as can be evidenced by the fact that five of Goa's six goals this season have come when Brandon has been on the pitch -- but Juan Ferrando seems to have cracked the winning formula. Ask Brandon to dictate play in the final third, ask Ortiz to run at opponents, and just let Angulo be Angulo.
Ferrando was a man under pressure coming into the match, but this win will soothe nerves. Goa, being Goa, appeared ready to collapse under pressure at the back toward the end, but it was their forwards once again that came out winners.
The Goa management had taken a risk allowing Ferran Corominas, that incorrigible record-breaking goalscorer, to leave but that risk only becomes a mistake if you don't replace him with someone capable. Right now Igor Angulo seems to be more than just a capable replacement. Right now he has Goa cooing, 'Coro who'?
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