ISL 2019-20: Chennaiyin FC 2-2 Odisha FC - Talking Points

Odisha FC came from behind twice to cancel out Nerijus Valskis' brace as Aridane Santan's 82nd minute goal secured a 2-2 draw against Chennaiyin FC.

Chennaiyin FC (blue jersey-9) player Nerijus Valskis scoring his second goal against Odisha FC (white jersey) during the ISL 2019-20 football match at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai on Thursday.   -  B. Jothi Ramalingam

Four second-half goals were scored as Chennaiyin FC and Odisha FC settled for a 2-2 draw on Thursday at the Jawahar Lal Nehru Stadium in Chennai. The draw lifted John Gregory's side to eighth in the Indian Super League table, while Odisha FC remained rooted in the sixth position below FC Goa.

Sportstar looks at the main talking points from the absorbing encounter in Chennai.

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Tale of two halves

While the first half was about both teams being shy of the goal on multiple occasions, the second half saw them finding the net from very unlikely of situations to settle for a 2-2 draw that does not bode well for their playoffs chances.

Odisha FC dominated the possession and chances in the first half as its forwards took full advantage of Chennaiyin's poor marking to get into dangerous positions. Carlos Delgado and Aridane Santana were left staring in disbelief when neither of them was able to head in a Xisco Hernandez corner in the 18th minute.

Chennaiyin emerged out of the tunnel for the second half inspired as it got three shots on the goal after managing just one on target in the first 45 minutes. With Anirudh Thapa pulling strings in the middle, Thoi Singh and Nerijus Valskis combined brilliantly in the middle while Chhangte's runs stretched the Odisha defence. The four of them were involved twice when Valskis scored a brace to put the host in command. Despite being the superior side in the second half, Chennaiyin's leaky defence allowed Odisha to claw back into the game twice.

Odisha's front three make Chennaiyin pay

Chennaiyin came into the game full of confidence after edging out Hyderabad FC 2-1 in its previous encounter, but it was Odisha who began with a flourish. The front three of Xisco Hernandez, Aridane Santana and Jerry Mawihmingthanga were unstoppable in the final third as their link up and direct play were  for the Chennaiyin defence. Xisco, who was given all the space and time on the ball, picked apart the host's defence and was unfortunate to have seen his powerful strike saved by Vishal Kaith.

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Jerry, who clocked a top speed of 30 mph, in the first half ran Tondonba Singh ragged and created a series of chances. The winger's calm presence inside the box also led to the first goal when he latched on to a loose ball and laid it for Xisco to smash home the equaliser. Aridane, who was happy to play the supplier in the first half, was given more freedom to drift into the centre. The Spaniard's quick thinking salvaged a point for Odisha after he took Martin Guedes' toe-poke on the volley to beat the keeper.

Gambau's substitutions backfire

As the first half progressed, Odisha FC Josep Gambau was pictured chewing on his t-shirt in frustration which summed up the night for the Spaniard. His team failed to take advantage of poor marking inside the Chennaiyin box. The 43-year old was, however, guilty with his substitutions in the second half which led to two goals from the host.

Fearing a second booking for Vinit Rai, Gambau sent in Bikramjit Singh after half-time, who gave away the ball cheaply as Thoi Singh cut in from the right-wing and squared off the ball for Valskis to finish. It took the Spaniard less than two minutes to replace Carlos Delgado after the centre-back was booked in the 66th minute forcing Marcos Tebar, a midfielder by trade, to slot in at centre-back. In the 71st minute, three minutes after the change was made, Valskis was left unmarked inside the box as he headed home Chennaiyin's second goal. Odisha needed a centre-back with an awareness of his marker and Tebar came short.

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