Odisha FC kept their third consecutive clean sheet and extended their unbeaten streak in all competitions to 10 games to secure a 1-0 victory over Punjab FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi in the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 on Tuesday.

The Kalinga Warriors rode on an early opener by Fijian forward Roy Krishna to take three points from this clash as the home side fell short of building upon their maiden victory in the competition that they notched last week against Chennaiyin FC.

True to head coach Sergio Lobera’s philosophy, the visitors held the major chunk of the possession (64.7%) as they outclassed the opponents at the centre of the park to maintain their assertiveness in the flow of play across both halves.

Odisha FC were unfortunately unable to break the deadlock in their goalless draw away from home against East Bengal FC. Lobera addressed that by unleashing his striker duo of Krishna and Diego Mauricio, helping the Juggernauts pile constant pressure on the ISL debutants.

Ahmed Jahouh delivered a precise corner from a set-piece in the 18th minute that Krishna hammered just off target on the right side of the net. However, the fact that the incumbent Super Cup winners had put Punjab FC on the back foot helped them convert one of these opportunities, which was brought about by promising young winger Isak Vanlalruatfela three minutes later.

Isak has improved significantly under Lobera’s tutelage. He set up the winner for Krishna from very close range and the former Bengaluru FC star didn’t blink twice before depositing the ball into the back of the net. That was followed by Mauricio hitting on target, as he scrapped through a tight situation to shoot from a difficult angle in the 27th minute, but the home side kept that effort at bay.

Punjab FC too had their chances, with Samuel Kynshi and Madih Talal joining hands to take shots at the Odisha FC defence. However, a strong backline guarded by a seasoned goalkeeper in Amrinder Singh, who now has 44 clean sheets in his ISL career, ensured that the home team caused little damage to their winning prospects.

Key Performer of the Match

Roy Krishna (Odisha FC)

Krishna played 38 passes, made three tackles and crosses each, in addition to netting the winner for Odisha FC. Whilst the strike in itself was very important, his overall contributions to the build-up cannot be understated either.

What’s next for both teams?

Odisha FC will now host Jamshedpur FC on December 29, whereas the first half of the ISL season for Punjab FC has come to an end with this match.

Brief Scores

Punjab FC 0 - 1 Odisha FC (Roy Krishna 21’)

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