Odisha FC and NorthEast United FC played out an entertaining 2-2 draw at the GMC Stadium in Bambolim on Tuesday in Match 37 of Hero of Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2020-21. It was an ebb-and-flow encounter that saw Diego Mauricio open the scoring in the 23rd minute but Benjamin Lambot equalised on the stroke of halftime. Kwesi Appiah then put NorthEast ahead from the penalty spot in the 65th minute only for Cole Alexander to level the score almost immediately.
After a cagey start that saw NorthEast dominate possession, the Highlanders registered their first shot on target in the 11th minute. Federico Gallego played an exquisite ball forward for Appiah, who controlled the ball with his chest excellently before being denied by Odisha’s goalkeeper Arshdeep Singh.
Odisha had the chance to go ahead in the 18th minute when a freekick was launched into the box and headed into the danger area by Steven Taylor. Mauricio seemed primed to make the most of Taylor’s header, but his initial attempt was blocked before he managed to squeeze another shot away that had to be cleared off the line by Dylan Fox.
Mauricio though made no mistake in the 23rd minute when he controlled a throw-in from the left before running with the ball and firing a powerful effort from outside of the box that took a slight deflection on its way into the back of the net.
NorthEast came close to equalising in the 38th minute when a superb freekick into the box was glanced wide of the target by Lambot. Another quality freekick into a dangerous area in the box shortly after was completely missed by Britto PM.
Gallego then forced Arshdeep into a save from a direct freekick and NorthEast had another set-piece opportunity in the 43rd minute when Gallego floated in another quality ball into a dangerous area. This time it was Appiah that got his head to the ball, but the Ghanaian couldn’t keep his effort on target.
However, the Highlanders did make the pressure count and scored their equaliser in first half stoppage time when Lambot made a darting run to the near post to head an Ashutosh Mehta cross beyond the goalkeeper and make it all square at halftime.
Odisha began the second half looking to take the game to the opposition and were getting into threatening areas in and around NorthEast’s box. A deflected Manuel Onwu header off a cross from the right even required the goalkeeper’s intervention in the 58th minute. A Jacob Tratt header from a freekick three minutes later was also saved by the goalkeeper.
When the goal did come in the 65th minute, it came against the run of play as NorthEast scored from the penalty spot after Arshdeep was adjudged to have brought down Appiah. The Ghanaian frontman took responsibility for scoring the penalty after earning it and dispatched it with power to the goalkeeper’s right to make it 2-1 for NorthEast.
Unfazed, Odisha’s response was instantaneous and was the result of some brilliant football. The Bhubaneswar-based club’s equaliser came through Alexander after he collected the ball from Jerry Mawihmingthanga in the box and curled in a superb strike at the far post to make it 2-2.
Idrissa Sylla could have reestablish the Highlanders’ lead immediately when he found the ball at his feet in the final third, but the substitute dragged his shot wide of goal. Another NorthEast substitute Khassa Camara went close to levelling as well in the 85th minute when he unleashed a venomous strike from distance.
Suhair Vadakkepeedika, who came off the bench for NorthEast as well, also had an attempt on the target a minute before the normal time. His header off a cross from the right, though, was comfortably saved by the goalkeeper as neither side could find a late winner and had to settle for a point each.
ISL Media Release