Odisha FC maintained their stellar record at home this season after a 3-1 win over Hyderabad FC in the Indian Super League (ISL) at the Kalinga Stadium on Friday.
The win saw the Juggernauts replace Bengaluru FC in sixth place, which adds extra pressure on the Blues who play Kerala Blasters on Saturday. A loss for Hyderabad FC also means that if Mumbai City FC win against FC Goa on Saturday, the Islanders will be crowned ISL League Shield winners.
The hosts got off to a lively start and were the better side in the first half. They dominated possession and had nine attempts on goal. Hyderabad FC could only muster three. Five out of those attempts came via Diego Mauricio. On a couple of occasions, the striker could not keep his shot on target, while Gurmeet Singh dealt with the others.
The Brazilian came closest in the 13th minute when his goal-bound shot picked up a slight deflection off Odei Onaindia and nicked the outside of the post. Saul Crespo controlled the tempo from midfield and almost contributed with a goal when his close-range header from a corner went wide.
Gurmeet was solid between the sticks, but it was not enough to keep Odisha FC quiet as they got their noses in front minutes after the half-hour mark. Pedro Martin played the ball back to Isak Ralte, who unleashed a curling stunner from about 30 yards out to put the hosts in front.
Just when it seemed that the Juggernauts were going into the break ahead, Hyderabad FC restored parity. Borja Herrera lofted the ball into the box from a free-kick which was cleared only as far as Nim Dorjee. The defender got his head on it to equalize
Six minutes into the second half, after a clever give-and-go with Narzary, Joel Chianese glided into the box with the ball and tried to squeeze it in at the near post, but Amrinder Singh had it covered. This chance came moments after Narzary’s header was saved comfortably by Amrinder.
Hyderabad FC turned their game up a little in the second half, but it was Odisha FC who retook the lead in the final quarter of the game. Mauricio’s marauding run attracted three defenders on the left side of the box before a loose ball fell into the path of Nandhakumar Sekar. The winger flashed it across the face of the goal and it picked up a deflection off Dorjee and went into the back of the net.
Mauricio’s persistence was ultimately rewarded in the final minute of stoppage time. Isaac Chhakchhuak lobbed the ball into the box as the Brazilian beat the offside trap before nestling the ball in at the far post from an acute angle, confirming all three points for the Juggernauts.
Odisha FC will travel to play NorthEast United FC in their next game on February 17. Meanwhile, Hyderabad FC’s eight-game unbeaten streak came to an end and they will try to bounce back with against ATK Mohun Bagan on February 14. (ANI)