NorthEast United FC travelled to Bhubaneswar to play their penultimate away game in the Indian Super League 2019-20. Their opponents and host Odisha FC had everything to play for as they still had a chance of making the playoffs in their maiden Indian Super League season. The Highlanders, on the other hand, only had pride at stake as their hopes of qualifying for the playoffs ended weeks ago. The game was a must-win game for Odisha FC.
The game started on a positive note with both the teams playing open aggressive football. NorthEast United FC took the lead in the 24th minute through a Martin Chaves goal which was assisted brilliantly by Federico Gallego.
Odisha FC made two changes at half time by bringing in Jerry Mawihmingthanga and Daniel Lalhlimpuia. The changes worked immediately as Odisha equalised within the first 40 seconds of the second half. Perez Guedes scored the winner for Odisha FC in the 72nd minute to keep Odisha's hopes of qualifying for the playoffs alive. At full time the scoreboard read 2-1 in favour of Odisha FC.
It was Khalid Jamil's first match as the interim head coach of NorthEast United FC, and it was not the result which the I-League winning coach wanted.
On that note let us take a look at three reasons why Odisha FC beat NorthEast United FC.
#3 Josep Gombau's half time talk works to perfection
Odisha FC didn't have a bad first half, and yet they went into the break trailing by a goal to nil. It wasn't as if Odisha hadn't created chances in the first half, but their finishing and link-up play was weak in the first half.
At half time Odisha FC made two changes by substituting Shubham Sarangi and Vinit Rai for Jerry Mawihmingthanga and Daniel Lalhlimpuia. The changes meant that Odisha shifted to 3-4-3 formation. The move worked immediately as Odisha equalised within the first minute of the second half through a Manuel Onwu goal from a Nandhakumar Cross.
The change in formation had an immense effect on the game as Odisha took full control of the game and dictated the tempo of the game according to their need.
The trio of Onwu, Daniel, and Jerry completely turned the game on its head as the trio ran havoc in the NorthEast United defence. The use of the wings more in the second half paid dividends as it stretched the NorthEast United defence creating a lot of openings for the Odisha attackers. Odisha FC has scored more than 50% of their goals through crosses and Gombau used this stat to perfection today.