Odisha overturns deficit against Mohun Bagan Super Giant to win 2-1 in SF 1st Leg

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Roy Krishna scored against his former employers

Odisha put a foot in the final of the 2023/24 Indian Super League by beating Mohun Bagan Super Giant by a 2-1 margin at the Kalinga Stadium. Carlos Delgado and Roy Krishna scored for the Kalinga Warriors, while Manvir Singh was the goal-scorer for the Mariners.

Coming into this match after winning the League Winners’ Shield by defeating Mumbai City 2-1, Mohun Bagan Super Giant head coach Antonio Lopez Habas chose to value continuity as he fielded the same team from the last match.

Fellow Spaniard Sergio Lobera was of the same opinion, as he too selected the same eleven players who took the field four days ago in a knockout match, where Odisha defeated Kerala Blasters 2-1.

The game was always likely to produce goals as both teams had world-class attackers in their ranks, but hardly anyone expected the first goal to come inside just three minutes. 

Dimitri Petratos launched a corner which found Manvir completely unmarked, as he had positioned himself between Odisha’s two central defenders, Mourtada Fall and Delgado. The attacker then blasted his header into the net, giving Amrinder Singh absolutely no chance to make a save.

Odisha had their first big chance in the 11th minute when Isak Vanlalruatfela launched a cross inside the box for Jerry Mawihmingthanga. The winger struck a shot which beat Vishal Kaith but was cleared off the goalline by the Mariners’ captain, Subhasish Bose. The rebound fell for Amey Ranawade, whose shot was saved by Kaith.

However, the hosts did not have to wait long for the equalizer as they found the back of the net from the resultant corner. The blame might be pinned on Kaith as he completely missed Ahmed Jahouh’s delivery, which then found Delgado unmarked and the central defender netted to make it 1-1.

The Mariners had a few chances of getting their lead back, both of them falling to Petratos. In the 18th minute, the Aussie attacker saw the ball unexpectedly landing at his feet from a Jahouh header. He then struck a powerful shot which was on target but aimed straight at Amrinder. 

Seven minutes later, Anirudh Thapa earned his side a free-kick from a dangerous position and Petratos’ attempt was once again impressive, but it narrowly missed the target.

Odisha’s second goal was all down to Roy Krishna’s individual tenacity and brilliance

The missed opportunities came back to haunt Habas’ men as against the run of play, Odisha took the lead in the 39th minute. Amrinder played out a long ball which should have been dealt with easily by the Mariners’ backline. Instead, Krishna cushioned the header and the Fiji international put on the afterburners to get to the ball first beating Hector Yuste who was slow to react and then slotted it past an onrushing Kaith.

It was not the last action of the game, as MBSG had a glorious chance of equalizing in the 41st minute. A long ball, this time from the Bagan defense, split open Odisha’s backline and found Manvir inside the box, who then slotted it into the path of Petratos. Unfortunately for the Kolkata-based team, the former Newcastle Jets striker blasted his attempt high.

Unlike the first half, the second half did not have a frantic start as the first two openings came from dead-ball situations. Liston Colaco got a free-kick in the 51st minute but his shot was wayward.

But in the 59th minute, Habas’ team should have scored their second goal of the match. Petratos struck another powerful free-kick which was parried away by Amrinder, but straight into the feet of Anwar Ali. However, it was a case of the wrong person at the right place for Mohun Bagan Super Giant, as the defender could not find the back of the net despite having the entire goal gaping.

Amidst all of these, there were two red cards flashed in the match as well. The first one was for Armando Sadiku, who got his second yellow card in the 67th minute for elbowing Jahouh while trying to win an aerial battle. 

Only seven minutes later, Delgado was given marching orders after he got his second yellow card for stopping a Mohun Bagan Super Giant attack with his hand just a yard or two away from the penalty box.

The Mariners’ biggest chance of the second half came in the 83rd minute when Liston darted into the box from the left flank before drilling in a grounded cross. In an attempt to intercept, substitute defender Narender Gahlot ended up pushing the ball into Thapa’s body, who could not react in time as the ball struck him and then hit the crossbar before staying out.

In additional time, a few Mohun Bagan Super Giant players like Bose, Petratos, and Deepak Tangri tried their luck from a distance, but luck was not on their side in this match.

With this win, Odisha will be heading into the second leg with a one-goal cushion. But in front of their home fans at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan on Sunday, the Mariners will be desperate for a comeback.