Odisha makes a stunning comeback to defeat East Bengal 4-2
Odisha returned to winning ways in style, as they overturned a two-goal deficit to beat East Bengal 4-2 at the Salt Lake Stadium in their sixth 2022-23 Indian Super League fixture. A Pedro Martin brace and strikes from Jerry Mawihmingthanga and Nandhakumar Sekar comprised the Kalinga Warriors’ four goals, while for the Torchbearers, Thongkhosiem Haokip and Naorem Mahesh Singh were the scorers.
East Bengal head coach Stephen Constantine made one forced change to his starting XI. Left-back Jerry Lalrinzuala was unavailable after sustaining an injury in training, and in his place, Pritam Singh got a rare opportunity.
Similarly, Odisha coach Josep Gambau also made a tweak to his starting XI. Jerry was not one hundred per cent fit in this match, and in his place, Raynier Fernandes operated on the flank, while Isaac Vanmalsawma slotted in at the vacant position in midfield.
The first few minutes of the game did not produce many clear-cut openings, but Odisha could have taken the lead in the 6th minute. Fernandes put in a good cross into the box, but Diego Mauricio could not keep his shot on target.
East Bengal had their first chance in the 13th minute when after receiving a through ball from Jordan O’Doherty, Mahesh launched a cross into the box. However, none of his teammates was on the same wavelength.
East Bengal eventually managed to break the deadlock in the 23rd minute. O’Doherty played yet another defense-splitting through ball, this time finding Suhair. The winger then used his experience to his advantage by finding Haokip unmarked inside the box instead of going for the shot himself, and the latter did the rest by tucking the ball home.
The Kalinga Warriors could have drawn level right on the half-hour mark when a Sahil Panwar corner found Narenher Gahlot unmarked, but the youngster made it clear that he is a defender with his wayward attempt.
Instead, Constantine’s men doubled their lead in the 35th minute. From the midfield, Cleiton Silva headed the ball towards Suhair’s path, who delivered yet another precise cross into the box. This time, the recipient was Mahesh, who had no issues in placing his shot past the Odisha custodian, Amrinder Singh.
Gambau’s side almost reduced the deficit in the 39th minute when Nandhakumar’s cross found Raynier inside the box. However, the midfielder’s header did not trouble Kamaljit Singh in the East Bengal goal.
Trailing 0-2 at half-time, Gambau needed a strong response from his team in the second half, and he got exactly that. Mauricio played a through ball for Martin in the 47th minute, and despite being in the field for only two minutes, the Spanish striker showed his class by placing his shot exquisitely past Kamaljit.
In the very next minute, the Visitors restored parity in the game. Mauricio laid off a cross from the left flank towards Martin’s path, and for the second time in the game, the former Atletico Madrid striker proved why he once played for Los Colchoneros by finding the back of the net.
Having drawn level, the Kalinga Warriors launched one attack after another into the East Bengal box, and eventually took the lead in the 65th minute. After receiving a pass from Nandhakumar, Denechandra Meetei launched a sublime cross into the box and Jerry did well to not only get to the ball but also place his header past a diving Kamaljit.
Trailing for the first time in the match, Constantine’s side was forced to get on the attack again, but Odisha took advantage of it by increasing their lead in the 76th minute. Saul Crespo played a delightful diagonal for Nandhakumar on the left flank, and the winger did the rest by first beating Sarthak Golui and then Kamaljit.
The Torchbearers had a rare second-half opportunity in the 87th minute when Pritam launched a cross from the left flank, but before any East Bengal attacker could get to it, Amrinder cleared away the danger. In a last-ditch attempt, young winger Himanshu Jangra pulled the trigger from the right flank in added time, but yet again, Amrinder was up to the task.
With this win, Odisha climbed to fourth place with 12 points to their name. They will now take on Chennaiyin on Thursday, while East Bengal, who remain in 8th position with six points, will be up against Jamshedpur on Sunday.