Sensational 3-2 comeback from Odisha drowns Bengaluru
Matchday 6 of the 2023-24 Indian Super League started with a sensational match, where Odisha handed Bengaluru a 3-2 defeat at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneshwar. Puitea, Isak Vanlalruatfela, and Amey Ranawade were Odisha’s three scorers, while Sunil Chhetri and Ryan Williams were on target for the Blues.
After his team lost 1-2 against Kerala Blasters in the last match, Odisha coach Sergio Lobera made wholesale changes to his team. Carlos Delgado, Jerry Mawihmingthanga, and Roy Krishna all got their places back in the starting XI, while Mourtada Fall, Aniket Jadhav, and Diego Mauricio had to make way for them.
On the other hand, Bengaluru coach Simon Grayson made two changes to the team that played out a 0-0 draw against Goa. Williams returned in attack in Rohit Danu’s place, whereas to facilitate that, Javi Hernandez had to sacrifice his place for the young Harsh Patre.
Opposite to what the scoreline suggests, Bengaluru had the better start in this game. Chhetri was looking lively as it took him all but four minutes to pull the trigger, but his first shot was saved by Amrinder Singh.
There was nothing that the Odisha goalkeeper could have done for Chhetri’s second shot to open the scoring in the 8th minute. A long-range effort from Patre struck almost every single defender in the Kalinga Warriors’ box before finding its way to the Bengaluru skipper, who calmly slotted his shot past Amrinder.
Odisha had barely recovered from the shock of conceding an early goal that they found themselves trailing 0-2 in just the 18th minute of the game. From the right flank, midfielder Keziah Veendorp played a delightful cross which found Williams completely unmarked inside the box, and the Aussie attacker did well to place his shot at the back of the net.
But against the run of play, Odisha sprung back to life in the 23rd minute. Jerry played a harmless ball to Puitea, who was a few yards away from the penalty box. However, the Mizo midfielder launched a spectacular left-footed shot that found Gurpreet Singh Sandhu scampering and reduced the deficit for his team.
Odisha could have scored the equalizer after the first goal as Lobera’s team had two chances over the next 15 minutes. Both of those opportunities came to Ahmed Jahouh, whose first shot was saved by Gurpreet, while the second effort was not on target.
The equalizer finally arrived in the 45th minute when Krishna’s left-footed shot was blocked by Aleksandar Jovanovic and the ball fell to Vanlalruatfela. Before the youngster could do anything about it, Gurpreet pounced on the ball and cleared it, but it fell kindly at the feet of Jerry. The winger’s attempt was blocked by Slavko Damjanovic, but for the second time, the rebound fell for Vanlalruatfela, who made absolutely no mistake this time around.
If conceding just before the break was bad, things took a turn for worse for Grayson’s side right at the start of the second half. Roshan Naorem, who was already on a yellow card, was handed marching orders for a poor tackle on Puitea.
The next few minutes saw Krishna and Vanlalruatfela wasting opportunities, but the third goal arrived in the 60th minute. Cy Goddard’s pass should easily have been dealt with by Namgyal Bhutia, but the young full-back made a mess of it and his Odisha counterpart, Amey Ranawade found himself through on goal with only Gurpreet to beat. Though the seasoned custodian tried his best by coming out of the goal and making the angle narrow, Ranawade delicately placed his shot through Gurpreet’s legs to hand Odisha the lead.
Lobera’s team could easily have scored their fourth goal just nine minutes later when substitute Mauricio launched a cross for Puitea. But having scored once already, the midfielder struck the post with this attempt.
One of Bengaluru’s rare opportunities of the second half came in the 78th minute when Rohit Kumar found substitute Curtis Main with a pass. But unfortunately for the Blues, the former Middlesbrough striker had his shot saved by Amrinder. The last chance of the game came in the 94th minute when Main laid off a headed ball for Damjanovic but the central defender fired his shot well off target.
Odisha head coach Sergio Lobera praised his players’ mentality and cited the importance of the win after the loss against Kerala Blasters in the last league fixture.
“I am happy because we get three very important points for us. In these circumstances, after conceding two goals, coming back from there is not easy, and I am proud of my players. The character of our players was very good as we were tired after the loss to Kerala Blasters.”
With this win, Odisha climbed to the sixth position with 7 points to their name from 5 games and the Juggernauts will now take on NorthEast United on Friday after a very short turnaround.
Bengaluru will continue their travels as they face Hyderabad at the Gachibowli Stadium on Saturday and will be hoping to better their position in the league standings as the Blues are in the 10th position with only 4 points in 5 games.