Odisha FC built distance at the top of the table with a 2-1 comeback victory against East Bengal FC at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar in the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 tonight.

The Kalinga Warriors were tied on points with second-placed Mumbai City FC ahead of this match. However, they are now at 35 points from 17 games and keep hold of their first spot in the standings after two successive draws against FC Goa and Mohun Bagan Super Giant in the build up to this match.

The sailing wasn’t as smooth for the home side though, with East Bengal FC winger Vishnu Puthiya making heads turn by notching the fastest goal by any player in the current ISL season to break the deadlock in the 33rd second of the match!

Right after the kickoff, Vishnu went dazzling down the right flank, picking the ball on the edge of the box, cutting into the middle, beating Jerry Lalrinzuala and outmanoeuvring Carlos Delgado before launching an instinctive shot beyond Odisha FC goalkeeper Amrinder Singh to put his side ahead early on in the contest. 

East Bengal FC had a fantastic chance to sustain the pressure secured through this early lead. However, their influence in the proceedings began waning as Odisha FC recovered from the early setback by playing to their strengths, with the striking duo of Roy Krishna and Diego Mauricio sustaining pressure upfront and capitalising on their prowess from set pieces.

Mauricio had a shot from outside of the box swirling over the post in the 14th minute, but his tricky footwork came to the rescue, helping him earn a spot-kick as fullback Mohammad Rakip challenged to recover possession from him in the 38th minute.

Mauricio stepped up and drilled the ball powerfully at the top right corner to equalise scores and bag his seventh goal of the campaign.

It was also the third penalty that he converted in ISL 2023-24, demonstrating his proficiency from 12 yards out, and helping him get on the scoresheet especially during a phase of the season when his Fijian counterpart Roy Krishna has outperformed him slightly.

That momentum carried on for the Kalinga Warriors in the second essay of the game, and it was Ahmed Jahouh who swung into the thick of things to help his side bag the winner.

He has been a stalwart of the ISL, securing success with three different clubs, and tonight he equalled his teammate Krishna to become the player to assist the second most number of goals (24) after Hugo Boumous (32) in the history of the competition.

All of this came courtesy of a corner kick in the 61st minute, with his delivery landing in the path of former FC Goa star Princeton Rebello, who had started the game for Odisha FC.

Rebello reached the delivery and flicked it into the back of the net from a position where Prabsukhan Singh Gill could do nothing to thwart the goal, thus resulting in East Bengal FC facing their seventh loss of the ISL campaign.

Key Performer of the Match

Princeton Rebello (Odisha FC)

The attacking midfielder had an impressive outing, completing 33 out of his 37 attempted passes, recording 89% accuracy. He notched the winner and was an industrious presence behind the frontline, constantly exploring spaces in the final third, making decisive passes for his fellow forwards and elevating his game at the correct moment to bring his side back to winning ways.

What’s next for both teams?

Odisha FC and East Bengal FC will play their following matches against Chennaiyin FC and FC Goa on March 3 and March 6 respectively.

Brief Scores

Odisha FC 2 (Diego Mauricio 40’, Princeton Rebello 61’) – 1 East Bengal FC (Vishnu Puthiya 1’)

For more information, visit our match center: https://www.indiansuperleague.com/matchcentre/62570