Odisha sinks East Bengal with a thumping 3-1 victory
Odisha opened the winning account of 2023 after completing a double over East Bengal in the 2022-23 Indian Super League by outclassing the visitors in an emphatic 3-1 triumph at the Kalinga Stadium of Bhubaneswar.
The Brazilian striker Diego Mauricio starred in the win for the Juggernauts after contributing two goals and one assist while Nandhakumar Sekar also bagged a solitary goal. Despite taking an initial lead with an early goal from Cleiton Silva, the Red and Golds could not get any further breakthroughs to eventually end up on the losing side on Matchday 15 of the 2022-23 ISL season.
The recent defeat at the hands of Mumbai City in a high-scoring saga forced the Odisha gaffer to make multiple changes in his lineup from the previous game. Josep Gombau brought back the likes of Osama Malik and Saul Crespo while the Spanish attacking midfielder Victor Rodriguez was not even included in the matchday squad.
East Bengal on the other hand only made a single change into the winning lineup which thumped Bengaluru on their own turf on the previous matchday. The domestic forward VP Suhair was not included in the squad owing to a one-match suspension after receiving four yellow cards as the youngster Himanshu Jangra replaced him in the offensive unit.
The referee R Venkatesh kicked off the play at Kalinga Stadium of Bhubaneswar as the Juggernauts in traditional black and purple colors took the battlefield against the visitors donning away white outfits. The Torch Bearers continued their aggressive approach with positive intent from the previous game and also found success in the early minutes of the game.
It was the Brazilian striker Cleiton Silva who sustained his goal-scoring streak further to break the deadlock and register his eighth goal of the season. A long free-kick from the East Bengal goalie Suvam Sen was quickly converted into a counter-attack by the midfield unit in no time.
The Brazilian midfielder Alex Lima collected and released it towards his countryman for a golden opportunity and the 35-year-old made no mistake to score past Amrinder Singh in the 10th minute.
The hosts were determined to equalize the scoreline and staged a big move in the very next minute which resulted in an unsuccessful attempt as Jerry Mawihmingthanga missed an easy tap-in in front of an open goal.
Consequently, the Kalinga Warriors finally got the equalizer in the 22nd minute as another Brazilian striker Diego Mauricio graced his name on the scoresheet. It was the ninth goal from set-pieces conceded by the Kolkata-based outfit this season with the move which was initiated with a right-footed corner-kick of Raynier Fernandes and consummated with a clinical finish from the Odisha talisman.
The Red and Golds had to make a forced change right before halftime as the 18-year-old Himanshu Jangra was taken off the battlefield on a stretcher and the Maharashtrian striker Aniket Jadhav was subbed on to replace him.
The Juggernauts took advantage of the opponent’s concentration break and went on to score another goal to take the leading position for the first time in this battle. The Chennai-born winger Nandhakumar Sekar took assistance from Mauricio and struck a long-ranging goal from the out of the box to finish the first-half action on the scoreline of 2-1.
When both of the combatants went back to the dressing rooms for half-time, it was speculated that the game would resume at a steady pace and both of them would be trying to tighten their grip gradually; however, the Men in Black had a different plan.
In the 53rd minute of the game, the Mumbaikar Raynier Fernandes drove the ball from midfield to release a through ball towards Diego to set up the second goal between them. The all-time top-scorer of Odisha collected it comfortably and breached the guard of the opposition goalkeeper to register his third goal contribution of the night.
We also witnessed some desperate attempts from the Torch Bearers in the dying moments but none of them could slump the lead. Instead of putting on safety gear and protecting the lead, the Kalinga Warriors kept knitting the moves to strengthen their commanding position throughout the second half. However, we could not witness any more goals in the span of the final 30 minutes as the full-time whistle was blown on a scoreline of 3-1.
Stephen Constantine’s Bengal Brigade got an ideal start to the away battle however they could not stay consistent with it and lost complete control by half-time. Meanwhile, the consistency and stabilized fluidity in their game plan were the biggest reasons that the Bhubaneswar-based club stood with all three match points in the end.
The Juggernauts will be travelling to their neighborhood city Bengaluru to take on the Blues at Sree Kanteerava Stadium in the hunt for another double victory of the season. Meanwhile, the Red and Golds will be heading back to Salt Lake Stadium to defend their fortress from Jamshedpur in an exciting chapter of the Eastern Derby.