East Bengal FC and Odisha FC played out an entertaining stalemate as the two Hero Indian Super League (ISL) sides put on a spirited display at the Payyanad Stadium, in Manjeri, Kerala, on Sunday evening.

Mobashir Rahman (38’) scored for the Torchbearers in the first half while Nandhakumar Sekar (73’) scored the equalizer to set up a nail-biting finish to the game.

Both teams looked rough at the start and Kamaljit Singh was called into action early in the game. The East Bengal FC custodian made a terrific double save to deny efforts from Diego Mauricio and Sekar, but the assistant referee raised his flag to call it offside.

Moments later, Odisha FC full-back Narender Gahlot drifted forward from the right channel as he delivered a cross towards Sekar, but the attempt from the forward went wide off the target.

A lovely move at the other end saw the Red and Gold Brigade take the lead seven minutes before the break. Rahman’s effective pressing forced Gahlot to lose the ball outside the penalty area, as the East Bengal midfielder found himself through on goal. He took his time before launching a curling shot that hit the post and went into the back of the net, to give the Torchbearers a half-time lead.

Jake Jervis threatened to double the lead on the other side of the half-time whistle, but his effort from close range was denied by Amrinder Singh.

The Kalinga Warriors made a couple of changes as they briefly appeared to gain confidence as they soon found the equalizer through Sekar. The Hero ISL Golden Boot winner turned provider this time as he took on two defenders inside the penalty box to lay the ball off for Sekar who smashed it down the left to restore parity.

Stephen Constantine re-energized his side with Jordan O'Doherty emerging from the bench to replace their goalscorer, Rahman.

There were then a couple of interplays inside Odisha FC's box in the final ten minutes. East Bengal FC continued to press the opposition half in the hunt for a goal with Jervis getting close to a goal-scoring situation.

Four minutes before the end of regulation time, the Kolkata-based club exchanged passes in the final third before Jervis took off a shot with his left foot, but his effort hit the post and came back into play.

Jervis failed to hit the target from a Mahesh Singh cross in the first minute of added time as the two teams settled for a point on the night.

Hyderabad FC edge past Aizawl FC

In the opening fixture of Group B, Hyderabad FC registered a 2-1 victory over Aizawl FC at the Payyanad Stadium, in Manjeri, Kerala on Sunday.

The Hero ISL side looked totally dominant in the first half and opened the scoring early on when Joel Chianese found the back of the net from close-range. The move started from Abdul Rabeeh who made a marauding run down the right flank, before setting up Borja Herrera for a shot. Herrera’s effort was saved by Aizawl FC keeper Hritapuia, but Chianese made no mistake to score from the rebound.

Skipper Joao Victor doubled the lead for Hyderabad FC from the spot after Aaren D’Silva was tripped in the penalty box. Ivan Vera found the far top corner from over 20 yards to reduce the deficit for Aizawl FC right at the end of the stoppage time.

Odisha FC will play their next game against Aizawl FC on Thursday while East Bengal FC will take on Hyderabad FC at the Payyanad Stadium in Manjeri in an 8:30 PM kick-off.