Odisha FC showed a lot of character but managed to pick up only one point in an exciting 2-2 draw against NorthEast United FC in the 2020-21 Indian Super League Season (ISL) at the GMC Bambolim Stadium.
Although NorthEast United FC started well, it was Diego Mauricio who put Odisha FC ahead in the 22nd minute. After missing a number of chances, the Highlanders finally equalized at the stroke of half-time through a Benjamin Lambot header.
NorthEast United FC did regain the lead in the 65th minute through Kwesi Appiah’s well-converted penalty but Cole Alexander cancelled it out very soon with a beautiful curling goal. Odisha FC, in particular, will rue the result as they still don’t have a win in this year's season.
Here are four things we learned from this match.
#4 NorthEast United FC fail to take their chances
The game started slowly as NorthEast United FC passed within their own half without posing much of a threat for over five minutes. However, the game gradually opened up with Federico Gallego displaying his majestic skill-set.
First, PM Britto connected with thin air after finding some space in the box off a corner kick. Just a minute later, Gallego found Kwesi Appiah with a magnificent long ball but Arshdeep Singh came to Odisha FC’s rescue with a stunning save.
Gallego along with Luis Machado continued to deliver as the first half went on but the likes of Britto PM and Benjamin Lambot missed easy headers. Eventually, it was an Ashutosh Mehta cross that Lambot got on the end of at the stroke of half-time.
#3 Odisha FC pose a good counter-attacking threat
NorthEast United FC dominated possession during the game in a predictable manner. They had 56% of the possession as opposed to Odisha FC’s 44% and the latter had to weather the storm in different parts of the game.
This benefited Odisha FC as they used the pace of Jerry Mawihmingthanga and Diego Mauricio to counter-attack NorthEast United.
Interestingly, Odisha FC’s two major moments in the first-half came off dead-ball situations. First, Vinit Rai’s free-kick in the 18th minute created a lot of chaos in the box with Mauricio guilty of missing a great chance.
Five minutes later, Diego Mauricio redeemed himself by finding the back of the net following a throw-in from Hendry Antonay.
#2 Gerard Nus comes up with surprising substitutions
When Federico Gallego was substituted for Idrissa Sylla in the 53rd minute, there was visible frustration in the Uruguayan’s eyes. After all, the playmaker had conducted the game on his own until then.
Highlanders’ manager Gerard Nus sprung one more surprise by bringing on Khassa Camara for Kwesi Appiah just a few minutes after Odisha FC equalized.
These two changes, in particular, changed the course of the game as Odisha FC started dominating the ball and created quite a few chances. Nus did say that Gallego was taken off due to his previous injury record but the attacking midfielder looked absolutely fine.
#1 Odisha FC impress as a team in the second half
While NorthEast United’s surprising changes did play a part in the game, Odisha FC must also be praised for taking the initiative in a crucial match. The duo of Mauricio and Jerry continued their good work while the full-backs Shubham Sarangi and Hendry Antonay became more solid as the game progressed.
Cole Alexander, in particular, worked his socks off in midfield with the South African also scoring one of the best goals of the season. The curling effort in the 67th minute turned out to be the equalizer and the final goal in a game that was played at a very frenetic pace.Published 22 Dec 2020, 22:48 IST