Nandha Kumar’s stoppage-time winner seals thrilling 3-2 win for Odisha

Odisha kept their 100% win record at home intact with a thrilling 3-2 win

Odisha hosted Chennaiyin at the Kalinga Stadium on Thursday to kick-start Matchday 8, and what an epic contest these two sides played out. Nandha Kumar grabbed a late winner to break the visiting team’s hearts and seal a memorable 3-2 win.  

Josep Gambau made a couple of changes as Pedro Martin was rewarded with a spot in the starting XI after starting the turnaround against East Bengal on Matchday 7. Issac Vanmalsawma also made way for another goalscorer from that night, Jerry Mawihmingthanga.

On the other hand, Thomas Brdaric didn’t want to tinker with the winning combination and started the same combination in every area of the field as they did against Jamshedpur in their last match.

Gambau’s men began on the front foot, taking the game to the visitors, as Raynier Fernandes tested Debjit Majumdar with a shot after good buildup play, the custodian made a good save, but the move continued and Pedro Martin got on the end of a cross once the ball was recycled but the Spaniard could only clip the bottom of the goalpost as Brdaric’s men survived. 

It was a positive start from the hosts who threatened again shortly after, as Pedro unleashed an effort from outside the box that sailed narrowly over the crossbar. 

The Marina Machans were pinned back in their own half for the first 15 minutes, and another effort came the home side’s way as Thoiba Singh Moirangthem got on the end of a half clearance but his volleyed effort flew over the goal. 

The first chance for Brdaric’s men came in the 27th minute, as Ajith Kumar won them a corner, Sourav Das sent in a cross from the right, but Fallou Diagne could only head it straight at Amrinder Singh

Gambau’s side kept knocking at the door and their persistence paid off at the half-hour mark as Sahil Panwar’s inch-perfect cross found Raynier whose header took a massive deflection off Vafa Hakhamaneshi and crept into the back of the net. The club from Chennai were forced into an early change as Jockson Dhas picked up a knock after clattering with Raynier, and he had to be replaced by Edwin Sydney Vanspaul. 

Dhas played a crucial role in his side’s win over Jamshedpur but his night to an early and disappointing end. It came as a huge blow to Brdaric’s side who already have lost the likes of Aniruddh Thapa and Jiteshwor Singh to injuries. Even after the goal, the Bhubaneshwar-based outfit didn’t sit back as they kept causing all sorts of trouble to the visiting team. 

A Raynier free-kick forced Debjit into a decent save, followed by another attempt as Nandha’s low cross fell to Raynier whose effort was blocked, while Saul Crespo’s crack at goal gets deflected although Debjit collected it calmly. 

It was a really disappointing performance from the Marina Machans in the first half, while the home side deservedly was a goal ahead at the break. After seeing his side getting outplayed, Brdaric responded by making two changes as he replaced Julius Duker and Sajal Bag with Rahim Ali and Abdenasser El Khayati, while Gambau also took sent on Diego Mauricio who replaced Martin. 

Barely four minutes after the restart, the hosts doubled their lead. Prasanth Karuthadathkuni hacked down Sahil inside the box and the referee pointed to the spot. The visitors protested but to no avail as Mauricio stepped up and duly dispatched the spot-kick. Shortly before the hour mark, the visitors had a huge appeal for a penalty turned down. Prasanth was convinced that he had his shirt pulled after he executed a nice give-and-go with his teammate but the referee was not convinced. 


Brdaric’s half-time team talk clearly had a positive effect on the two-time ISL champs who were attacking a lot more in the second half. They pulled one goal back at the hour mark as El Khayati scored his third goal in as many games, having an impact after coming off the bench. 

The Dutchman coolly finished past an onrushing Amrinder, after receiving a great flicked pass from Petar Silskovic to give his side a lifeline. As the game progressed it became much more of a tale of two halves as it was the visitors who were doing the most of the attacking, putting the hosts under the cosh.

There was a chance for the home team to get their two-goal cushion back, as Nandha played a ball to Isaac Vanmalsawma who tried to curl the ball into the right top corner but missed by a whisker. 

Narender Gehlot and Jerry Mawihmingthanga also combined late in the game as the latter tried a diving header but his effort was off target. The Marina Machans came agonisingly close from a corner as Gehlot nearly scored an own goal but Amrinder was on hand to stop the ball from crossing the line. 

There was plenty of drama late in the game as Vafa was brought down inside the box deep into stoppage time. The assistant referee spotted the challenge and advised the referee to give the visitors a penalty much to the fury of Gambau’s men. 

There was a floodlight failure to add to the drama as El Khayati placed the ball on the spot 12 yards from the goal and the lights went off. Once the lighting was back to normal, the Dutchman scored to restore parity and it seemed that he had stolen a point for his team. 

But, there was one last twist in the tale as Gambau’s side got their noses in front once again, sparking wild celebrations not just from the players but from the coach as well. Nandha was the calmest man on the field as he latched onto a rebound off a half clearance and finished past Debjit to send the home crowd into raptures. 

Odisha collected all three points and rose to third place with 15 points in the bag, the same as Mumbai City. On the other hand, Chennaiyin failed to break into the Top 4 and remained in the seventh position with 10 points from 7 matches.

The Marina Machans will now face the tough challenge of Manolo Marquez’s Hyderabad next Saturday while Odisha will host NorthEast United next Friday in hope of three more points.