Odisha FC 2-1 NorthEast United: Juggernauts win again at home as Highlanders slip to 8th successive ISL 2022-23 defeat

Nandhakumar Sekar celebrates putting Odisha FC ahead against NorthEast United FC. [Credits: ISL Media]
Nandhakumar Sekar celebrates putting Odisha FC ahead against NorthEast United FC. [Credits: ISL Media]

Odisha FC maintained their perfect home record in the ISL 2022-23 season with a 2-1 win against NorthEast United on Friday, December 2.

The Juggernauts looked like the better team from the start, though the Highlanders did well to keep their creativity to a minimum in the first 10 minutes. The visitors even created a couple of chances, with Romain Philippoteaux hitting the side netting after being found by Matt Derbyshire in the box.

Eventually, the passes and interchanges began taking centre-stage for Odisha, who grew into the game and pushed NorthEast United onto the backfoot. This eventually led to them taking the lead in the 25th minute.

Some neat link-up play between Saul Crespo and Raynier Fernandes down the right saw the latter slip Diego Mauricio in behind the visitors' defense. Mauricio took the ball in his stride before delivering a teasing ball across the box. Nandhakumar Sekar tapped the cross home at the far-post to make it 1-0.

Nandha is on the scoresheet once again โšฝ๏ธ#OdishaFC #AmaTeamAmaGame #TheEasternDragons #OFCNEU

The goal seemingly took the wind out of NorthEast United's already suffering sails as Odisha wrested control of the game. Chances were at a premium for the final 20 minutes of the half as the teams entered the break with the hosts holding a slender advantage.

NorthEast United draw level, but Odisha FC storm back to move to second in ISL 2022-23 standings

Odisha FC began the second half by wielding more control, limiting the chasing NorthEast United FC's touches on the ball.

Isaac Vanmalsawma, who replaced the injured Raynier Fernandes in the first half, forced an early but comfortable save from Arindam Bhattacharya. This in turn prompted Highlanders boss Marco Balbul to make his first changes of the game in the 55th minute.

On came Ion Gaztanaga and Rochharzela in place of Matt Derbyshire and Mohammad Irshad.

The duo made an instant impact on the game, with Gaztanaga in particular helping the visitors hold the ball and recycle possession. This in turn led to his team getting an equalizer just five minutes after his arrival.

Gaztanaga worked the ball out to Philippoteaux, who released Joe Zoherliana down the right. The full-back whipped in a grounded cross that took a deflection on its way before being met by Rochharzela. While the shot wasn't perfect, it had enough on it to beat Amrinder Singh, who could have done better.

With the game now level, it was Odisha boss Josep Gombau's turn to turn to his bench. The Juggernauts ramped up the quality on the pitch as Victor Rodriguez and Pedro Martin came on within seven minutes of each other. And in the 78th minute, the hosts were back in front.

Crespo, who was central to most of his side's forays forward, exchanged passes with Rodriguez to find some space on the edge of the box. He gave Gaztanaga just an inch of space, but the midfielder couldn't win the ball back as Crespo fired a shot on goal.

Bhattacharya did well to reach it, but palmed it straight back into the danger area and Jerry Mawigmingthanga lashed it in at his near-post to make it 2-1.

Simple game management did the job from there on for Odisha, who, despite the close scoreline, were largely comfortable in the closing stages.

The Juggernauts recorded their fourth win from four home games this season, moving up to second in the ISL 2022-23 standings. Gombau's men are just three points behind Mumbai City FC with a game in hand.

Meanwhile, NorthEast United slipped to a record-extending eighth defeat in a row to sit at the bottom of the ISL table with zero points.

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Edited by Anantaajith Ra
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