Pedro Martin came in as a late substitute to find the all-important goal and helped Odisha FC beat Army Green 1-0 in the concluding Group D league match of the 131st Durand Cup football, at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium on Sunday.
The win saw Odisha FC topping the league table with an all-win record and tallied 12 points from four matches. The ISL side also managed to keep a clean slate in the league stage to have figures of 12 goals in favour and zero against. Kerala Blasters, which tallied seven points from its four, became the group runner-up and progressed to the knock-out stage (quarterfinals).
According to the quarterfinal line-up announced by the organizer, Odisha FC as the Group D winner will meet the Group A runner-up Bengaluru FC while Kerala Blasters will take on the Group A topper Mohammedan Sporting SC. The final positions of the other two groups – B and C – will be decided on Monday.
Having already secured its position on top of the group standings with three successive wins, Odisha FC did not show the urgency for an all-out attack initially. The first half thus ended barren as the Army outfit did not seem to have the requisite arsenal to overwhelm the well-knit defence of Odisha.
The match livened up in the final quarter of the action after Odisha coach Josep Gombau brought in some substitutions to spruce up the attack. This set up the Odisha goal as Martin was released unmarked inside the Army box with a defence-splitting pass from another substitute, Paul Ramfangzauva, and the former finished it with a powerful grounder.
The result: Army Green 0 lost to Odisha FC 1 (Pedro Martin).