Odisha FC tear Mumbai City FC to shreds in a scintillating first half display
On a sultry afternoon in Mumbai yesterday, Josep Gombau walked into a press conference room comprising eager journalists, each waiting to dissect Odisha’s rather uninspiring start to the ISL campaign. The newly formed team had lost both its games on the road, against Jamshedpur FC and NorthEast FC by identical 2-1 margins, meaning that they were staring down the ISL barrel a tad too early.
Yet, their coach charmingly laid down the law, stating that they weren’t going to change their brand of football, implying that they wanted to implement that philosophy better as opposed to retreating into their shell. And, that’s exactly what Odisha FC did in a commanding first-half showing, where they ended with a three-goal advantage.
Aridane Santana, Jerry Mawihmingthanga and Xisco Hernandez bagged the goals for the visitors as Mumbai were left chasing shadows, at times.
From the outset, the visitors had more purpose about their play as they pinged the ball all across the field swiftly. More encouragingly though, they seemed to have chalked out the avenues which were expected to bear most fruit, something Mumbai City FC were guilty of not doing.
Odisha displayed immense confidence as they played out from the back and that invited the hosts to press high up the pitch. However, Mumbai’s efforts went in vain as they pressed disjointedly, thereby enabling the visitors’ players the requisite space to carve out openings.
On countless occasions, Mumbai’s forward and midfield line pressed the Odisha defenders but their defence failed to compress the pitch as they opted for a deeper line. In the process, Odisha found space in between the lines with Xisco Hernandez flourishing.
Additionally, the visitors seemed intent on spreading the ball wide as briskly as possible. Jerry and Nandhakumar hugged the touch-line and caused the Mumbai full-backs a plethora of problems.
Moreover, whenever the play proceeded on one of the flanks, a central midfielder or Xisco popped up in the centre of the park to receive the ball and switch play. The aforementioned ploy directly led to the 2nd and 3rd goal for Odisha.
Mumbai, on the other hand, looked devoid of ideas as they constantly tried and failed to get their wingers into the game. Consequently, several aimless crosses were hoofed up into the box, a prospect Diawandou Niang Diagne and Rana Gharam didn’t particularly mind.
As for midfield, Odisha managed to outmuscle the hosts’ midfielders, despite Mumbai enjoying a numerical advantage. A lack of runners blunted Paulo Machado’s cutting edge and that enabled the away side to exploit the Portuguese’s lack of pace.
Coming into the encounter, Mumbai hadn’t conceded a single goal whereas Odisha hadn’t managed to post a victory. Yet, for those who might’ve only watched the opening 45 minutes, they would’ve been forgiven to think that things were the other way round.
After all, Odisha, despite Mumbai’s famed defensive record, tore them to shreds in a pulsating first half performance.