The 90th match of the Hero Indian Super League saw many goals and more attempts at goal but what it didn’t see was a definite result. Both Odisha FC and Kerala Blasters FC toiled hard for a hard-fought 2-2 draw tonight. A double strike from Diego Mauricio was not enough to rescue three points for Odisha FC.
The first half saw Odisha FC take the lead and leave the Blasters to attempt a comeback in the second half. And a comeback did they make! They scored another goal after the equaliser, leaving Odisha FC struggling. It was their talisman, the Brazilian Diego Mauricio, who scored once again for his brace and his team’s equaliser. The game opened up quite a bit after that but the goalkeepers did their best to not let anything through, and it resulted in an entertaining, but anticlimactic draw.
The match started at the Fatorda Stadium with Kerala Blasters FC dominating the pitch. They hogged possession and kept playing attacking football from the start, often testing the Juggernauts’ defence line. The first golden opportunity came to them in the 31st minute as Steven Taylor‘s poor pass towards Mohd Sajid Dhot was skilfully intercepted by Sahal Abdul Samad, at a dangerous position right outside the penalty area. He cut in with speed and fed the ball to Gary Hooper in the middle of the box but the latter’s shot went just wide of the goalpost- a wasted opportunity.
3 minutes later, the Blasters lost another opportunity which screamed for a better finish. This second chance was easier than the last one. The Odisha FC goalkeeper Arshdeep Singh made a blunder pass to a lurking Gary Hooper inside his box. Hooper’s slow reaction and awareness meant he could not finish the ball and had to end up passing the ball away. A late run from Juande to receive the pass resulted in him skying the ball into the stands while the entire goalpost waited just in front of him. A regulation goal missed by the Spaniard and the deadlock remained intact.
The first goal came from the Odisha FC as Diego Mauricio scored against the flow of the match. At the stroke of halftime, Jerry Mawihmingthanga‘s beautiful chip was received with both feet as Diego Mauricio took a few touches to evade the rushing goalkeeper and slot it into the back of the net.
Odisha FC went into the halftime break leading 1-0, but two goals in a matter of minutes by the Blasters left them a spot of bother. Jordan Murray‘s strike off of Gary Hooper’s assist and yet another defensive mistake from Odisha FC helped them score the equaliser in the 52nd minute. They scored again in the 68th minute as it was Gary Hooper this time around. Sahal Abdul Samad with a fine display of skill, passed in a reverse ball for Gary Hooper into the left side of the penalty area. This time the latter did not disappoint. He slotted in another goal, thus putting his side in the lead now.
But Odisha FC did not lose heart and it was their talisman, Diego Mauricio again to their rescue. He scored his second goal of the night as he slotted in Bradden Inman‘s assist for a sweet, sweet equaliser. The rest of the match saw a few opportunities missed by both sides as the goalkeepers brought in their A-game and saved their teams from any further setbacks and the match ended in a hard-fought draw.
Hero of the Match: Diego Mauricio
The DHL Winning Pass of the Match Award was awarded to Sahal Abdul Samad. Diego Mauricio was awarded the Hero of the Match Award for his breathtaking brace and his efforts to level the score.
Kerala Blasters are now at the 9th position with 16 points from 17 matches. They have a slim chance of getting to the knockout stage, while it is almost non-existent for Odisha FC, as they have only 9 points from 16 matches. The Blasters are to face Hyderabad FC on 16th February while Odisha FC is set to face NorthEast United FC on the 14th of February.