Odisha remains on top but Jay Gupta’s stunner seals a point for Goa
A thrilling clash between Odisha and Goa in the 2023-24 Indian Super League season ended in a 1-1 stalemate in Bhubaneshwar’s Kalinga Stadium. Roy Krishna opened the scoring for the Kalinga Warriors while Jay Gupta scored the equalizer for the Gaurs.
Although his team won the last match against Hyderabad by a 3-0 margin, Odisha head coach Sergio Lobera made wholesale changes to his starting XI for this high-voltage clash. Narender Gahlot, Carlos Delgado, Jerry Lalrinzuala, Ahmed Jahouh, and Princeton Rebello were handed starts. Meanwhile, Thoiba Singh, Mourtada Fall, Vignesh Dakshinamurthy, Cy Goddard, and Lenny Rodrigues had to vacate their places.
On the other hand, Goa head coach Manolo Marquez Roca made two changes to the team that defeated Hyderabad 2-0. Rowllin Borges and new signing Mohammad Yasir got starts, while the axe fell on Narayan Das and Boris Singh Thangjam.
As expected, the game had a high-tempo start as both teams are known for their attacking prowess. It took only four times to get the first goal of the match, which came from the hosts’ camp.
Isak Ralte sold Seriton Fernandes for all his worth with his trickery before attempting to play a grounded cross for Diego Mauricio but it was cut out by Gupta. Luckily for the Kalinga Warriors, the rebound fell to right-back Amey Ranawade, who launched it back for an unmarked Krishna and the striker calmly slotted it past a helpless Arshdeep Singh.
The Gaurs could have equalized just six minutes later when Brandon Fernandes launched a cross for Noah Sadaoui, but the Moroccan could not guide his header on target. A minute later, Sadaoui had another go at glory, but could not find the target once again.
Four minutes later, Carlos Martinez played a pass to Gupta who pulled the trigger from a long way out, but the left-back’s attempt was directed straight at Amrinder Singh. The Odisha custodian was called into action just a few minutes later when another dangerous Fernandes cross found Martinez, but Amrinder was up to the task here as well.
Exactly at the half-hour mark, a cross from the left flank by Sadaoui was just behind Martinez, but the Spaniard did well to make a Cruyff turn before launching a strong attempt. Unfortunately for him, the shot went straight at where Amrinder had positioned himself.
But Goa’s wait for an equalizer did not last long, as Gupta scored an absolute worldie in the 37th minute. Receiving a pass from Seriton, Fernandes launched a cross into the box but it was headed away by Gahlot. The ball then fell to Gupta who was more than 25 yards away from goal, but managed to find the perfect connection to beat an outstretched Amrinder.
Goa carried the momentum forward into the second half as well, as the initial exchanges were dominated by Roca’s men. A free-kick from Fernandes nearly found Odei Onaindia unmarked in the 47th minute, while just two minutes later, the skipper himself had a go but none of those chances resulted in a goal.
Against the run of play, Rebello struck a shot in the 52nd minute, but he was not accurate in his attempt either. The Kalinga Warriors had another glorious chance in the 58th minute and it should have been converted from. A free-kick from Jahouh found Delgado completely unmarked but the Spaniard just could not get the desired connection and ended up striking the ball with his shoulder instead of his head.
Three minutes later, Ranawade pulled the trigger from outside the box and did well to keep his attempt on target, but it did not have enough power to beat Arshdeep’s dive. Substitute Lenny had a go as well, but Odisha could not reclaim their lead.
Having soaked up the 15-minute spell of pressure from the home team, Goa once again went on the offensive and nearly broke Odisha’s defense for the second time in the 72nd minute. A ball from the deep by Fernandes completely split Lobera’s backline open and found Sadaoui unmarked, but the latter dragged his shot wide.
Then in the 75th minute, Ralte nearly pulled off a Gupta. Finding himself in space, the winger launched a shot despite being quite far from the goalmouth. His shot had both the right dip and height, but it struck the crossbar and not the back of the net.
The last chance of the game fell to Goa in the 92nd minute and they nearly pounced upon it. Sadaoui received a ball from the deep, laying off a headed pass for Fernandes. The Goan attacker then launched a shot which was on target, but Amrinder put in an equally impressive save to safeguard a point for his team.
With this draw, Odisha remains at the top of the standings with 31 points from 15 matches. They will now take on Mohun Bagan Super Giants on 24th February, while Goa is second with 28 points from 12 games and will be up against the Mariners on Wednesday.