Odisha FC registered its first win of the season with a 4-2 defeat of Kerala Blasters in the Indian Super League (ISL) at the GMC Athletic Stadium on Thursday.
An own goal by Jeakson Singh and a Steven Taylor strike in the first period helped Odisha overturn the Blasters lead which was given through Jordan Murray. Diego Mauricio then struck a brace in the second half, which proved crucial in Odisha securing the three points.
Here are the talking points from the game.
Mauricio the talisman
Minutes before kick-off, forward Manuel Onwu pulled out due to injury, which meant much of the attacking burden fell on the shoulders of Mauricio. He provided the good with two goals and an assist, while creating five chances up front. It was Mauricio, who got the beating of Abdul Hakku on the right side before playing the ball to take the deflection of Jeakson Singh for the own goal to pull the scores level in the second half.
In the second half, the Brazilian struck two powerful finishes to provide Odisha with the insurance of a three-goal lead to defend for over 30 minutes. Mauricio was the focal point of attack with both wingers Jerry Mawihmingthanga and Nadhakumar Sekar looking to find him at each opportunity. The 29-year-old could have had a hat-trick as well when he crashed against the underside of the crossbar with a header.
A happy ending at last for Baxter
'Relief', said Stuart Baxter after Odisha FC secured its first win in nine attempts in the ongoing Indian Super League (ISL) season. Despite the 4-2 scoreline in his team's favour, Odisha had to hang on for its first three points this season. Better composure in front of goal in the final 10 minutes of the game, and Blasters would most certainly have rode the momentum to sneak a point and cause further pain for Baxter and Odisha.
In recent weeks, the Scotsman has often spoken about his team not being at the end of a positive result for the team's performance. "We have just not had that happy ending. It's always been a sob story," noted Baxter at the end of a 2-2 draw against NorthEast United FC. The taste of victory would be one to savour for Baxter. "It will be nice to have a little glass of wine," said the 67-year-old.
'Ctrl+P' for Blasters
So much of what went wrong for Kerala Blasters on Thursday could be identified in its previous matches. The team is often let down by defensive errors and it was no different against Odisha. The team now has the worst defensive record in the league with 17 goals against its name.
Blasters have taken the lead thrice this season and have only gone onto lose twice and draw once due to the errors at the back. Against Odisha, Hakku's failure to clear the ball lead to Mauricio helping his team equalise before his centre-back partner Sandeep Singh conceded a poor free-kick from which Jeakson failed to track the run of Steve Taylor, who had a free run to put his team in the lead.
More trouble came in the form of injury to right-back Nishu Kumar, who had to be replaced by Bakary Kone. One simple ball over the top on the right side helped open up Blasters again for the third goal. Then, Kone was hesitant in closing down Mauricio for the fourth goal. However, it was the Blasters head coach Kibu Vicuna, who cut a forlorn figure on the touchline, apologised to the Blasters faithful on air for his team's performance and took full responsibility for the defeat.
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