Indian youngsters on target as Odisha beat Chennaiyin

Bhubaneswar: Odisha FC moved up to the fifth position in the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2019-20 table with a 2-0 win over Chennaiyin FC at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Monday. They are now just one point behind fourth placed Mumbai City FC, who have 16 points from 11 matches. Jerry Mawihmingthanga opened the scoring in the 37th minute and Vinit Rai doubled Odisha’s lead soon after. 

Nerijus Valskis missed a chance to give Chennaiyin the lead after skying his penalty.

Jerry Mawihmingthanga gave Odisha the lead in the 37th minute.

Vinit Rai made it 2-0 for Odisha four minutes before half-time.

Neither team managed to grab a foothold in the game in the opening 20 minutes. The hosts did put the ball in the back of the net from a corner in the 21st minute but the referee had blown his whistle for a foul before the net rippled. Odisha’s subsequent attack saw Xisco Hernandez square the ball from the right for Nandhakumar Sekar, who blazed his shot over the crossbar, much to the disappointment of his teammates and the home fans.

Chennaiyin got an opportunity to go ahead shortly after as they were awarded a penalty in the 24th minute. However, the Marina Machans’ top-scorer Valskis stepped up to take the spot-kick and failed to hit the target as the score remained goalless.

Odisha looked to capitalise at the other end with a quick break which concluded with Aridane Santana skying his effort over the crossbar. The home side finally took the lead in the 37th minute, courtesy Jerry Mawihmingthanga, who was at the right place at the right time. The young Indian winger was perfectly positioned at the back post to slot home a cross from the right and give Odisha the lead after Chennaiyin’s goalkeeper, as well as the defence, failed to clear the ball.

Odisha doubled their advantage four minutes later and once again it was an Indian youngster on the scoresheet. This time, it was Vinit, who ran onto a perfect lay-off outside the box and put his laces through the ball to produce a thunderous strike that gave Chennaiyin custodian Vishal Kaith no chance to make a save. Odisha went into the break 2-0 up.

Chennaiyin began the second period on the front foot as they looked for a way back into the contest. That said, they couldn’t quite create any clear-cut scoring chances despite seeing more possession and playing with more intent and purpose.

With the two-time winners struggling to claw their way back, Odisha decided to take the sting out of the match by trying to keep the ball and run down the clock. To Chennaiyin’s credit, they continued to battle on in search of a goal albeit without much success to show for their efforts. Substitute Rahim Ali came off the bench and powered a shot wide in the closing stages for Chennaiyin, but Odisha eventually emerged as comfortable winners on the night to secure the three points.

The young Indian midfielder scored his first-ever goal in the Hero ISL and it was well worth the wait. Vinit’s screamer from distance capped off a solid display at the center of the park that saw him make three blocks, five successful tackles and six clearances, besides having a passing accuracy of 79%.

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