Odisha FC versus Chennaiyin FC ended in dramatic fashion in the Indian Super League at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Thursday. A 96th-minute Nandhakumar Sekar goal clinched a 3-2 win for the Juggernauts after Chennaiyin FC had scored the equaliser in the 94th minute via an Abdenasser El Khayati penalty.
The hosts made two changes to their starting eleven. Diego Mauricio dropped to the bench as Pedro Martin started his first game of the season for Odisha FC. Jerry Mawihmingthanga returned to the starting lineup, and Isaac Chhakchhuak started from the bench. Chennaiyin FC fielded the same team that won against Jamshedpur FC.
Odisha FC got their noses in front a minute after the half-hour mark, courtesy of an own goal scored by Vafa Hakhamaneshi. Sahil Panwar whipped in a cross from the left flank before Raynier Fernandes tried to head the ball down to Jerry. While attempting an interception, Hakhamaneshi redirected the ball into the back of his net.
Chennaiyin FC made two changes at half-time. El Khayati and Rahim Ali came on to replace Julius Duker and Sajal Bag. Odisha FC also made a substitution at the break that raised a few eyebrows as Pedro was withdrawn and replaced by Mauricio.
Just two minutes into the second half, the Juggernauts were awarded a penalty after Panwar was taken out in the box by Prasanth Karuthadathkuni. Mauricio stepped up to take it and smashed it into the back of the net to end his five-game goal drought. Chennaiyin FC head coach Thomas Brdaric’s protests on the touchline earned him a yellow card.
But his team pulled one back at the hour-mark. Shortly after appeals for a penalty were turned down, Ajith Kumar curled a ball into the box from the right flank before Petar Sliskovic flicked it on with his head and El Khayati slotted in their first goal with a composed finish.
In the 89th minute, Saul Crespo brought Hakhamaneshi down in the box and the referee pointed to the spot which El Khayati slotted in the equaliser from the spot. The delight did not last long as Odisha FC retook the lead via Sekar, who pounced on a stray ball that came after Jerry’s run was thwarted in the final third.
The win lifted Odisha FC from fifth to third, level on 15 points with Mumbai City FC. The Juggernauts will remain at the Kalinga Stadium for their next game against NorthEast United FC on December 2, Friday. Chennaiyin FC stayed seventh, sandwiched between the two Kolkata teams. They return to the Marina Arena to host Hyderabad FC on December 3, Saturday.