Odisha FC pip SC East Bengal to remain in semi-final contention
Odisha FC kept their hopes of reaching the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) semi-finals alive with a 2-1 win over SC East Bengal at the Tilak Maidan stadium in Vasco, Goa on Monday.
Jonathas (23’) put Odisha FC in front in the first half before Antonio Perosevic (64’) equalised for SC East Bengal. But Javi Hernandez (75’) restored the lead for Kino Sanchez’s side who were then able to preserve it to collect all three points.
The defeat means SC East Bengal are mathematically out of contention for a semi-final spot this season.
The game got off to a slow start as neither team wereas able to conjure up chances in the opening exchanges until Hernandez who danced past a couple of SC East Bengal defenders to set up Jonathas for a tap in in the 23rd minute which the Brazilian put away without much fuss to put Odisha FC in the lead.
The goal gave Odisha FC some momentum in the match as the Red and Gold brigade found themselves pinned in their own half for the next few minutes.
SC East Bengal made their presence felt as an attacking force at the end of the first half but lacked the cutting edge to change the scoreline.
Odisha FC went into the break with their noses in front.
The Red and Gold brigade upped the ante in the second half and Darren Sidoel came close to an equaliser when his free-kick in the 49th minute flew just over the crossbar.
Perosevic then missed a great chance to get SC East Bengal on the scoresheet after he latched onto a long ball inside the box but blazed his volley over ten minutes later.
Perosevic though made amends for his miss in the 64th minute when he received a delightful pass from Franjo Prce and found the back of the net with a neat finish to draw his team level at 1-1.
But just when it seemed that SC East Bengal would complete another successful second-half comeback, Odisha FC took the lead again in the 75th minute through Hernandez who calmly slotted it past the goalkeeper after receiving the cutback from Jonathas who drew defenders with his mazy run.
The duo switched roles three minutes later as Jonathas was set free on goal by a Hernandez pass but the former failed to make a telling connection to his volley as the chance went begging.
Four minutes later, Hernandez was involved yet again in an attacking Odisha FC move as he dinked an effort over the SC East Bengal goalkeeper only to see it cleared off the line by Hira Mondal who prevented a certain goal.
SC East Bengal tried to force the equaliser but their efforts didn’t yield the desired result.
The three points meant Odisha FC jumped to sixth spot in the table. SC East Bengal remained tenth.
Odisha FC next face Mumbai City FC in a crucial match in the race for the semi-final on Sunday while SC East Bengal take on Kerala Blasters FC a day later.