ISL 2020-21: Familiar concerns plague Odisha, Gallego adds new dimension in attack for NEUFC

ISL 2020: Here are the talking points from the 2-2 draw between Odisha FC and NorthEast United FC at the GMC Athletic Stadium in Bambolim.

Odisha FC has conceded four penalties this season - the most for any team.   -  ISL/Sportzpics

Odisha FC (OFC) and NorthEast United FC (NEUFC) played out an entertaining 2-2 draw at the GMC Athletic Stadium in the Indian Super League on Tuesday.

Diego Mauricio put Odisha ahead in the first half before goals from Benjamin Lambot and Kwesi Appiah helped NEUFC overturn the deficit. Cole Alexander struck an equaliser immediately after as Odisha claimed only its second point of the season.

Here are the talking points from the game. 

OFC vs NEUFC - Match report

Familiar story for Odisha

Despite taking the lead for the first time this season, Odisha lost its way, plagued by familiar troubles.

Before this game, Odisha had conceded three penalties and five out of the nine goals it had conceded had come either side of the water breaks and also in the stoppage time of either half.

Odisha conceded five free-kicks inside its own half in the final 10 minutes in the opening period, when NEUFC players initially misfired with their headers before Lambot struck in the stoppage time. In the second half, NEUFC was allowed to break from its own box into the other end within a matter of few seconds to win the penalty for Kwesi Appiah's goal.

After the game, Odisha head coach Stuart Baxter said, "We are doing more and more of the good things and less bad stuff but the latter is still costing us dearly. We are improving I think but it's slow."

Cole Alexander impresses

There was a bit of urgency in Alexander's play against NEUFC. After starting the season as a deep-lying midfielder, Alexander has been pushed further forward in recent games. Although he couldn't stamp his influence in the first half, he asserted himself better in the second and pulled the strings in the middle of the park. He capped off a top performance with a well-taken goal, when he used the defender as a screen in front of him to bend his shot into the bottom right corner.

Cole Alexander

Odisha FC's Cole Alexander struck the equaliser against NorthEast United FC in the Indian Super League. - ISL/Sportzpics

 

"He is an infectious player. The boys love him. At times, he is a one man pressing unit. He can get from box-to-box very quickly. I was not surprised with his goal. His performance in general was great," Baxter said of his performance.   

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Gallego adds cutting edge in attack

NorthEast's excellent start to the season was built on workrate, maintaining strong defensive shape and taking its chances in attack. But the attack was lacking creativity in recent games with just two goals from the last three games, which it failed to win.

The return of Federico Gallego will in someway address that concern as he showed on the night against Odisha. In the first half, he helped create three clear-cut chances from set-piece deliveries and was key in linking up play with striker Appiah and winger Luis Machado. When Gallego was replaced in the 53rd minute, NEUFC lost its attacking edge as Odisha began to assert itself by controlling the midfield battle.

Federico Gallego created four chances for NEUFC in 53 minutes. ISL/Sportzpics

 

On the substitution, NEUFC head coach Gerard Nus said, "We know he has been injured for a while. His performance was amazing and what he brings is something top class. At the same time you want him to be ready for next games."

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