Goals in either half by Jerry Mawihmingthanga and Diego Mauricio helped Odisha FC defeat Chennaiyin FC by 2-0 at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar to start their Indian Super League (ISL) 2023 campaign on a victorious note on Saturday.
Odisha FC seemed to have adapted to new head coach Sergio Lobera’s philosophy seamlessly right from the offset. They held the major chunk of the possession and kept probing the Chennaiyin FC defence with their fluid offensive moves but neither of the two teams came close to breaking the deadlock until Jerry found the breakthrough courtesy of some incredible coordination upfront in the 45th minute of the game.
Goalkeeper Samik Mitra failed to handle a long-range shot properly, which landed in fullback Amey Ranawade’s feet on the right-hand side of the 18-yard box. Ranawade squared up a neat pass to Jerry, who turned around swiftly and shot firmly from his left foot into the bottom right corner to hand the Juggernauts the vital lead heading into the half-time break.
Chennaiyin FC came close to levelling the scores shortly after the break. They won a corner in the 56th minute and the duo of Lazar Cirkovic and Connor Shields scrapped through to somehow equalise. However, a resilient Odisha backline spearheaded by goalkeeper Amrinder Singh ensured that the team kept the visitors at bay.
Lobera reinforced Odisha FC’s attack by bringing in Brazilian forward Diego Mauricio for Jiteshwor Singh as the second half progressed. Mauricio, the joint-highest goal-scorer of the previous ISL season, instantly pounced upon a defensive error by Ankit Mukherjee to bag the home side’s second goal of the night. Mukherjee fumbled a back pass that ended in Mauricio’s pathway, who rounded off Mitra to calmly slot the ball into the back of the net.
The Juggernauts grew in confidence thereafter as they tested the Chennaiyin defence pretty closely in the final 20 minutes of the match. First, Isak Vanlalruatfela came close to furthering the lead but his shot ended up slightly wayward off the post in the 73rd minute. A few minutes later, towering defender Mourtada Fall jumped high amidst a tight space but ended up heading the ball faintly off target.
Key performer of the Match
The 26-year-old was the point of difference between the two teams with his incredible footwork, ball control and sharp shooting abilities ensuring that Lobera’s men secured the opening goal of the evening. He was a constant presence in and around the Chennaiyin box, maintained a 92% passing accuracy and recorded a tackle and an interception each too.
What’s next for both teams?
Odisha FC will host Mumbai City FC in their next encounter on September 28, which will also mark the first time that Lobera will take on his former club in the ISL. The Marina Machans will travel to Guwahati to take on the NorthEast United FC on September 29 for their upcoming match in the league.
Odisha FC 2 (Jerry Mawihmingthanga 45’, Diego Mauricio 62’) – 0 Chennaiyin FC