Hero Super Cup final: Odisha FC beat Bengaluru FC to clinch first-ever silverware
Odisha FC got their hands on their first-ever silverware as they got the better of Bengaluru FC in a 2-1 thriller in the Hero Super Cup final at the EMS Corporation Stadium in Kozhikode, Kerala, on Tuesday.
Star talisman Diego Mauricio struck twice in the first-half to hand the lead to the Juggernauts. The Blues were left chasing the game and found reply through a Sunil Chhetri penalty strike late in the second-half but fell short of time to mount an equaliser. Clifford Miranda also made history, becoming the first Indian coach to win the Hero Super Cup.
Ahead of the game, Bengaluru FC head coach Simon Grayson made one change to the side which started the semi-final encounter against Jamshedpur FC, with Jayesh Rane, who scored the opener in Friday’s fixture replacing the injured Javi Hernandez. Odisha FC, meanwhile, went with an unchanged side from their semi-final against NorthEast United.
Bengaluru FC, playing their third final of the season, started off as the more authoritative of the two sides in a rain-lashed kick-off. The Blues kept plenty of possession in the opposition half, while Odisha FC, who had conceded two early goals in their last two games, were content with sitting back, making a cautious start to their first-ever final.
However, as the rain died down, so did Bengaluru's command on the ball. Odisha began causing trouble from set-pieces, with Carlos Delgado's close-range volley from Sahil Panwar's corner their first real chance. Sandesh Jhingan was on hand to make a last-ditch block for Bengaluru.
Clifford Miranda’s men took the lead in the 23rd minute, when Diego Mauricio’s free-kick slipped through the grasp of Bengaluru FC goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu and trickled over the line. The Blues pushed for an equaliser and very nearly found one just before the half hour mark when Jayesh Rane released Udanta Singh on the right. The winger’s cross, however, was whisked wide of the target by skipper Chhetri.
YOU KNOW IT 😎— Odisha FC (@OdishaFC) April 25, 2023
🏆 WE ARE THE HERO SUPER CUP 2022-23 CHAMPIONS 🏆#OdishaFC #AmaTeamAmaGame #TheEasternDragons #HeroSuperCupChampions pic.twitter.com/uKhQ2gISN5
Mauricio doubled the Juggernauts’ lead in the 38th minute, against the run of play. Having slipped past his marker in the box, the Brazilian was at hand to poke home from close range after Jerry Mawihmingthanga nodded the ball down into a dangerous area. The Juggernauts took a two-goal cushion into the break, with the Blues having their task cut out for them in the second period.
With Bengaluru looking dishevelled and completely on the backfoot, Clifford Miranda's men continued to go full throttle and could've still added to their lead before the break. First, it was Nandha Kumar, who sent a curling volley from the edge of the box, which Gurpreet was equal to. Then it was Jerry again causing trouble down the flank, entering the box from the right before thundering a strong effort off the crossbar.
Ahead of the restart, Grayson made a quadruple substitution, bringing on Prabir Das, Aleksandar Jovanovic, Sivasakthi Narayanan, and Pablo Perez in place of Udanta Singh, Rohit Kumar, Jayesh Rane and Namgyal Bhutia.
The changes helped the Blues push ahead in their quest to reduce the deficit. They came close to doing so, once again through Chhetri, when the skipper rose highest to get his head to a corner, but could only place his attempt wide off Amrinder Singh’s post.
It took 77 minutes for Bengaluru FC to test Amrinder with their first attempt on target. And it wasn't particularly threatening as well. Pablo, out of options near the edge of the box, went for a low shot through a forest of legs, which Amrinder pushed away with ease.
The continued efforts of the Blues bore fruit when Sivasakthi Narayanan was brought down by Aniket Jadhav in the box. Chhetri then stepped up and buried his penalty despite Amrinder diving the right way to pull a goal back for Bengaluru FC.
The goal forced Odisha FC to make three substitutions in one go as Isaac Vanmalsawma, Saul Crespo, and Paul Ramfangzauva came on for Jerry, Mauricio, and Sekar respectively.
The Blues made one last push in the final minute as Sandesh Jhingan got his head to a cross from Suresh Wangjam, but the defender saw his effort go agonisingly wide, as Odisha FC hung on to emerge victorious on the night.
Having won their first-ever silverware, the Juggernauts will take the field next against former Hero I-League champions Gokulam Kerala FC in the Hero Club Playoffs on Saturday. The winner of this tie takes home a spot in the group stage of the AFC Cup 2023-24.