Wasteful Bengaluru and Odisha rue missed chances in a goalless draw

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The attackers of both teams failed to convert the chances

The 2023-24 Indian Super League season returned after the international break, where Bengaluru played out a 0-0 draw against Odisha in the first fixture of Matchday 20 at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium.

Bengaluru head coach Gerard Zaragoza made five changes to the team which lost 1-2 against Goa. Shankar Sampangiraj, Keziah Veendorp, Lalremtluanga Fanai, Sivasakthi Narayanan, and Oliver Drost were handed starts as Aleksandar Jovanovic, Slavko Damjanovic, Shivaldo Singh, Suresh Singh Wangjam, and Sunil Chhetri made way for the incoming quintet respectively.

On the other hand, Odisha head coach Sergio Lobera made three changes to his starting XI which lost 1-2 against Chennaiyin. Carlos Delgado, Jerry Lalrinzuala, and Aniket Jadhav got their chance to impress at the expense of Narender Gahlot, Vignesh Dakshimurthy and Diego Mauricio respectively.

Though neither team could score in this match, both sides had chances. The first chance came only a few seconds into the game when a pass from Isak Vanlalruatfela found Roy Krishna at the edge of the box. The Fiji international let fly, but his attempt was aimed straight at the Bengaluru goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu.

The hosts had their first chance in the 12th minute as Javi Hernandez found himself in acres of space down the right flank and did well to beat his marker Mourtada Fall, but could not sort his feet out. The ball landed at Drost’s feet, whose shot was cleared from the goalline by Fall.

Odisha had their next opportunity in the 16th minute as Ahmed Jahouh launched a lobbed ball into the box from a free-kick which was headed by Sampangiraj but straight into the path of Delgado, whose attempt was saved by Gurpreet.

In the 23rd minute, Puitea snatched the ball off Veendorp’s feet and found Jadhav, whose shot was nowhere near the target. Eight minutes later, the winger did manage to keep his shot on target, but Gurpreet came to the Blues’ rescue again.

The biggest chance of the match came in additional time of the first half. A long ball from the deep found Krishna, who did brilliantly to beat his marker and then go past Gurpreet but could not score against his former employers despite having the entire goal gaping. The rebound fell to Krishna again but Gurpreet made a good save on this occasion.

Like the first half, Odisha created the first big opening of the second half as Princeton Rebello played a wonderful ball for Jadhav but the winger failed to find the target once again.

Lalremtluanga Fanai had a good game in midfield for Bengaluru

It was then Bengaluru’s turn to test Odisha’s backline. In the 53rd minute, a delightful corner from Javi Hernandez found Chinglensana Singh totally unmarked, but the defender could not find the back of the net. Youngster Fanai almost did just three minutes later when he launched a venomous shot from outside of the box after receiving a pass from Drost, but Amrinder Singh made a fine save for the Kalinga Warriors.

Just after the hour-mark, Ralte did a superb job to outmuscle his marker Nikhil Poojary before finding right-back Amey Ranawade in space down the right flank, but the latter’s shot was saved by Gurpreet. Jahouh tried a long-range shot moments later, but his attempt was wayward.

Having failed to score from a good opportunity, Ranawade made amends in the 66th minute. Drost found Hernandez with a pass who chose to be selfless and tried to find Williams with a chipped pass but the Odisha defender cleared the ball before the ball could reach the Australian.

Receiving a pass from substitute Chhetri, Hernandez had another chance in the 74th minute and the Spaniard tried to find the bottom corner but Amrinder was up to the task.

The last major chance of the match came in the 85th minute when two of Lobera’s substitutes combined beautifully. Lenny Rodrigues threaded a pass for Pranjal Bhumij down the right flank, who then managed to cut in on his left foot and pull the trigger. Gurpreet was found helpless for the first time, but unfortunately for Odisha, Bhumij’s shot struck the crossbar and stayed out.

With this draw, Bengaluru is placed 6th in the standings with 22 points in 20 matches. They will now take on East Bengal on Sunday while Odisha remains 3rd with 36 points from 19 matches and will host Punjab on Tuesday.