Odisha FC on Monday registered a come-from-behind 2-1 win over Hyderabad FC at the Payyanad Stadium in Manjeri to progress to the Super Cup 2023 semi-finals. East Bengal and Aizawl FC ended their seasons with a 2-2 draw at the Payyanad stadium.
Second-half goals from Diego Mauricio and Victor Rodriguez were enough to overcome an early deficit as Odisha FC ensured they remained unbeaten in Group B and finished with seven points in their kitty with two victories and one draw. Javier Siverio put Hyderabad FC in the lead early in the encounter.
Initially, the Manolo Marquez-coached Hyderabad FC looked more composed than their rivals as they held their defensive unit together. A couple of early attacks on the Odisha goal gave them the confidence to make further inroads.
Eventually, Hyderabad found the breakthrough in the 11th minute when a curling cross from Borja Herrera Gonzalez was met by Javier Siverio to make it 1-0. The Spanish forward leaped high in the air to head it into the top right corner, leaving Amrinder Singh glued to his spot.
Diego Mauricio, in particular, had a couple of glorious chances to pull the scores level. But the Brazilian star’s grounders in the 27th and 34th minutes were comfortably saved by Gurmeet Singh.
Mauricio levelled the score for Odisha in the 55th minute. The Odisha footballer took advantage of a melee inside the box following a corner kick and finally found the back of the net.
But Hyderabad kept it going and produced some great passages of play. They came tantalisingly close to taking the lead again on more than one occasion, but couldn’t quite find the net. On one such occasion in the 73rd minute, Siverio once again had the opportunity to get onto the scoresheet. But the Spaniard couldn’t keep his header on target off a Joel Chianese cross.
Odisha, in the meantime, kept playing on the counter and kept the Hyderabad defence busy with constant movement in the final third.
Ultimately, their resilience paid dividends as Diego Mauricio and Victor Rodriguez combined to make it 2-1. This time, it was Rodriguez, who was left unmarked inside the box, as he made no mistake in tapping home Mauricio’s low cross from the right flank.
In the dying moments of the game, the referee gave Gurmeet Singh the marching orders. The Hyderabad goalkeeper tripped Mauricio just outside the box, denying a clear goalscoring opportunity.
East Bengal draw against Aizawl
In the other group B match, Naorem Mahesh Singh and Sumeet Passi put the Red and Golds in front, but two goals from Aizawl FC in quick succession ensured the spoils were shared.
Recently minted India international, Naorem Mahesh Singh, was the driving force of East Bengal’s attack for the majority of the match and it was him who found the opener in the 17th minute. Brilliantly played through by Cleiton Silva, Mahesh cut inside the box before crossing the ball to the centre of the area. His cross caught a wicked deflection though, ending up in the Aizawl goal.
One way traffic continued. Five minutes after the opener, East Bengal had doubled their lead. From a VP Suhair cross, Sumeet Passi rose highest to head it into an empty net after Aizawl FC goalkeeper Vanlalhriatpuia got his angles wrong in an attempt to punch the ball clear. At the time, a rout looked in the offing, Constantine’s side not just dominant on the ball, but menacing and adventurous with it too.
Right before halftime though reality struck, when Aizawl pulled one back against the run of play. Japanese Defender Akito Saito ran upfield before releasing a through pass to David Lalhlansanga. David made the most of the pass and took a shot from a narrow angle. Kamaljit saved the initial attempt but the rebound fell straight to Lalhruaitluanga, who kept his composure to pull one back.
If that wasn’t enough, minutes after the restart Aizawl drew level, David the architect, the artist and the magician conjuring up the equaliser.
Saito’s long ball into the East Bengal penalty box was cleared neatly by Kamaljit. The keeper had rushed off his line to kick the ball clear, and ensure Aizawl didn’t run through, but his clearance fell straight to David 40 yards from goal. The forward took his shot and it sailed in, to the astonishment of almost everyone in the stadium.
East Bengal never really recovered from the setback and failed to create a clear cut chance in the second half. The result meant East Bengal were knocked out without registering a single win in the competition. Aizawl meanwhile got their first point, much deserved for all the grit they have shown in the tournament.