ISL: Odisha FC inch one step closer to play-offs after win over NorthEast United FC

Guwahati, 17 Feb: Odisha FC inched closer to grabbing their first-ever play-offs spots in the Indian Super League after a resounding 3-1 win against NorthEast United FC at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium here on Friday.
Goals from Nandhakumar Sekar, Victor Rodriguez, and Diego Mauricio gave three vital points to the Juggernauts, who are now one point away from sealing the play-off qualification.
Odisha FC kicked off with Pedro Martin and Diego Mauricio up front. The attacking intent was evident, but it was NorthEast United FC who made the better start and ventured forward in the first 10 minutes.
The first attempt came from Jithin MS as the winger tried to bend one into the far post from the left flank but ended up firing it wide.
At the other end of the pitch, Odisha FC finally started challenging the NorthEast United FC backline. Opportunities fell to the Spanish duo of Martin and Saul Crespo but neither one of them could get their attempts on target.
But in the 36th minute, the deadlock was broken and Odisha FC took a crucial lead. Raynier Fernandes and Sahil Panwar exchanged a couple of passes after a short corner as the latter found Nandhakumar near the edge of the box. The winger took one look at goal and put his boot through the ball to find the top right corner.
NorthEast United FC had a couple of opportunities in the first 10 minutes of the second half.
From a corner aimed at the far post, Aaron Evans’ header was off target. Moments later, Parthib Gogoi showed excellent awareness on the right flank as he spotted an opening at the near post. The youngster tried his luck from near the touchline and forced Amrinder to readjust his footing and palm it behind for a corner.
But Odisha FC established a two-goal cushion five minutes past the hour-mark.
From the right flank, Crespo squared a low ball into the box for Rodriguez. The substitute’s deft touch helped him dodge Evans before driving it past Bhattacharja seven minutes after coming on. In the last 10 minutes, Laldanmawia Ralte fouled Crespo inside the box and gave away a penalty.
Mauricio fired it straight down the middle to make it 3-0.
In the second minute of stoppage time, a first clean sheet in eight games was snatched away from Odisha FC after Wilmar Gil fired one home from the spot following Shubham Sarangi’s foul. (PTI)