The Indian Super League, this season, has usually seen a flurry of goals in the second half, but this game - between Odisha FC and Jamshedpur FC - would not go on to follow suit.
Playing at their home stadium for the first time this season, Josep Gombau's men managed to edge out a 2-1 lead at half-time, thanks to the heroics of Aridane Santana. That scoreline would see no change as Odisha managed to scrape past its neighbour and secure three vital points to rise to sixth place in the points table.
Highlights | Odisha FC 2-1 Jamshedpur, as it happened
Here are the important talking points from this tie:
1. Superman Santana
Aridane Santana had a great game at the Kalinga Stadium on Friday. His brace powered the home team to a crucial win against the Men of Steel. In the 28th minute, Santana broke the deadlock with a stunning shot straight into the net, ably assisted by Nandhakumar Sekar. The duo combined again for Santana's second goal of the night in the 45th minute when a strong side-footed volley founds its way past Subrata Paul into the goal.
However, the Spaniard's contributions went beyond merely finding the back of the net. His role in the second half shifted from pursuing a hat-trick to being a valuable asset in an otherwise poor defense.
Case in point - in the 95th minute, Dorronsoro made a mess of a ball coming straight into the goal, spilling it right in front of the goal with three Jamshedpur players hovering right there for possession. A crucial interception from Santana ensured the lead was protected in the death. His all-round show was the difference between the two sides in this game.
2. Trump cards: Sekhar and Vineeth
Nandhakumar Sekar had a great game against Jamshedpur. A long throw from the defense or a pass from the midfield would always find Sekhar stationed by the flanks waiting to run down the ball into the box to set up a chance for Santana & Co. He starred in both of the Spaniard's goals and was a pacy blessing for the home side in the box.
CK Vineeth came on for Jamshedpur in the final few minutes of the game and almost instantly made a difference to the pace of the attack. He put in a clever cross from the left to find Farukh Choudhary but Martin Perez's interception foiled a potentially dangerous goal opportunity.
These two players helped keep the attack sharp for both teams in crucial moments of the game and have to be lauded for their persistence down the flanks.
3. Piti-ful state sans Castel
Jamshedpur is missing a true-blue striker. The side has not had a win since Sergio Castel's injury-induced absence. Odisha's porous defense should have been exploited and it is in games like this where the Aniket Jadavs and Farukh Choudharys shine. But that did not happen.
In that final challenge by Jamshedpur, Tiri had to double up as a centre forward to try and net the opportunity for the visitor but in vain. The creativity that the likes of Piti and Castel bring in the box is what the side has been missing. Farukh plays better when a playmaker is there to back him up, but considering Jamshedpur at one point had four strikers in the attack, it isn't unreasonable to expect it to reflect on the scoreboard.
4. United we fall
Defenders from the Odisha outfit were carded left, right and centre in this game to the extent that all four defenders and the goalkeeper finished the game with yellow cards to their name.
The passes were lazy and keeper Francisco Dorronsoro found himself jittery in a few passages of play. That Odisha managed to defend its one-goal lead from half-time says more about Jamshedpur's inability to convert chances and capitalise on Odisha's mistakes than the home side's defending prowess.
5. Of howlers and the need for instrospection
This was a good game, in terms of refereeing, compared to some of the other howlers this season of the ISL has seen. A blatant error in the 85th minute saw the referee booking Farukh for a foul despite clear contact with the ball. In a tussle for possession with Bikramjit, Farukh managed to steer the ball clear, tripping Bikramjit in the process.
As for the game itself, Odisha's first win at home saw football of 9,452 spectators. Fans turned up with drums, banners and streamers screaming in support of their boys. However, the ease with which the turf kept coming off, understandably so considering it's the first game here, will need some more attention.
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