Goals in either halves by Jerry Mawihmingthanga and Diego Mauricio helped Odisha FC defeat Chennaiyin FC by 2-0 at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar to start their ISL-IX 2023 campaign on a victorious note on Saturday.
Play was halted for 35 minutes in the first half due to heavy rain and lightning. The delay had its effect on the next match as Mohun Bagan Super Giant's game against Punjab FC kicked off at 8.35pm and not usual 8pm.
Odisha seemed to have adapted into new head coach Sergio Lobera’s philosophy seamlessly right from the offset. They held the major chunk of the possession and kept probing the Chennaiyin defence with their fluid offensive moves but neither of the two teams came close to breaking the deadlock until Jerry found the breakthrough courtesy of some incredible coordination upfront in the 45th minute of the game.
Dimitri Petratos (right) celebrates with Liston Colaco after scoring Mohun Bagan Super Giant’s second goal against Punjab FC during the ISL-X match at the Salt Lake Stadium on Saturday. Santosh Ghosh
Goalkeeper Samik Mitra failed to gather a long-range shot properly, which landed in fullback Amey Ranawade’s feet on the right hand side of the 18-yard box. Ranawade squared up a neat pass to Jerry, who turned around swiftly and shot firmly from his left foot into the bottom right corner to hand the Juggernauts the vital lead heading into the half-time break.
Chennaiyin came close to level the scores shortly after the break. They won a corner in the 56th minute and the duo of Lazar Cirkovic and Connor Shields scrapped through to somehow equalise. However, a resilient Odisha backline ensured that the team kept the visitors at bay.
Lobera reinforced Odisha’s attack by bringing in Brazilian forward Diego Mauricio as the second half progressed. Mauricio instantly pounced upon a defensive error by Ankit Mukerjee to bag the home side’s second goal.