Javi Hernandez brace helps Odisha script history against Bengaluru

Odisha players celebrate the goal by Javi Hernandez against Bengaluru

A Javi Hernandez brace and a wonder goal from Aridai Cabrera helped Odisha start their Indian Super League 2021-22 campaign with a win over former ISL champions Bengaluru.

The new Odisha head coach Kiko Ramirez fielded a new-look starting XI with Kamaljit Singh starting in goal behind the central defensive partnership of new signings Hector Rodas and Victor Mongil. New skipper Vinit Rai marshaled the midfield with Javi Hernandez playing as the creator-in-chief behind Jonathas de Jesus.

On the other hand, the Bengaluru manager Marco Pezzaiuoli rung a couple of changes to the team that beat NorthEast United 4-2 on Saturday. Ajith Kumar and Cleiton Silva made way for Naorem Roshan Singh and Prince Ibara as the Congolese striker made his full debut for the Blues.

In the 3rd minute, miscommunication between Gurpreet Singh Sandhu and Yrondu Musavu-King led to a poor clearance from the Bengaluru custodian which fell straight to Hernandez. Capitalizing on the opportunity, the former ATK Mohun Bagan attacker chipped the ball in the back of the net from 35 yards to give Odisha an unusual early lead in the match.

Following the opening goal of the evening, Odisha took complete control of the game as the Juggernauts should have doubled their lead in the 12th minute but Nandhakumar Sekar aimed directly at Sandhu when he was through on goal in a one-on-one against India’s first-choice goalkeeper.

After soaking in the initial press, Pezzaiuoli’s boys eventually got into the game around the 19th-minute mark as Ibara’s powerful shot forced Singh to make a save and concede a corner in the process. 

The Blues could have equalized from that corner itself but Rodas heroically made a goal-line clearance to preserve the slender lead. Unfortunately, his efforts went in vain as the subsequent corner was headed past the Odisha custodian by Brazilian central defender Alan Costa a few seconds later.

Bengaluru dictated the tempo of the game as Ibara got two more half-chances but the Congolese frontman failed to give his team the crucial lead before the end of the first half.

After keeping the game at 1-1, the Odisha players came out all guns blazing in the second half. The Blues became their nemesis once again in the 50th minute as Udanta Singh was in acres of space and unchallenged but managed to give away the possession in his own half to Jonathas, who tactically drew a foul just at the edge of the box.

It was then Hernandez’s turn to prove his mettle for the second time as his missile-resembling freekick found the back of the net beating Sandhu with sheer power and accuracy of the strike.

At the hour mark, the inclusion of Cleiton Silva changed the complexion of the game with the Brazilian earning his team a penalty hardly five minutes after his inclusion.

Sunil Chhetri fails to take his ISL tally to 48 goals as he misses the penalty against Odisha

Sunil Chhetri fails to take his ISL tally to 48 goals as he misses the penalty against Odisha

As expected, Sunil Chhetri took the ball in his hand and put in on the mark to score a potential 12th penalty and 48th goal in the ISL but Kamaljit Singh turned the tables by becoming only the second goalkeeper in the history of the league to save Chhetri’s penalty after Albino Gomes. Adding to the drama, Cleiton Silva’s rebound was disallowed due to encroachment in the penalty area at the time of the penalty being taken.

Sensing the danger, Ramirez soon shut out shops by bringing in players like Isak Vanlalruatfela and Liridon Krasniqi. Bengaluru got a great opportunity to restore parity in the 90th minute when Singh proved to be Odisha’s savior once again denying Silva his second ISL goal of the season after a brilliant move involving skipper Chhetri yet again.

Spanish forward Aridai Cabrera replaced his countryman Hernandez and continued doing the job for Odisha as he killed the game off in the last minute by slotting Isaac Vanmalsawma’s long ball past Sandhu after showing trickery and outsmarting substitute Pratik Chaudhari.

Odisha scripted the following records on the evening

  • The first-ever win against Bengaluru in the history of the ISL
  • Smashed three goals past Bengaluru for the first time in the history of the ISL
  • Started an ISL season with a win and 3 points in the bag