Morocco midfielder Ahmed Jahouh’s quality finish from a free kick in the 21st minute ensured reigning champions Odisha FC’s win over former champions Bengaluru FC in their first 2024 Super Cup Group D encounter at the Kalinga Stadium on Friday.

Earlier in the day, FC Goa picked up three points when they handed out a 2-1 defeat to Inter Kashi.

Bengaluru FC, known as The Blues, struck fear into the hearts of the in-form Odisha FC, even though they had to face the second half with only ten men after Ryan Williams was shown the door by the referee.

The match kicked off with Bengaluru FC seizing the initiative, as Siva Sakthi Narayanan squandered a golden opportunity as early as the fifth minute. Amey Ranawade’s attempt to clear a cross from Roshan Singh led to a chance for Siva Sakthi, but Odisha custodian Lalthuammawia Ralte made a crucial save.

The deadlock was broken in the 21st minute when Jahouh stepped up to take a free kick. His well-placed shot aimed at Sahil Poonia’s near post proved too challenging for the young Bengaluru FC goalkeeper, who struggled to deal with the bounce, resulting in the ball finding the back of the net.

Odisha FC looked to capitalise on their lead as Jahouh arranged another promising opportunity from a corner in the 43rd minute. Slavko Damjanovic’s clearance denied them a second goal, but the ensuing excitement left some Odisha fans momentarily believing they had doubled their advantage.

Despite Bengaluru FC maintaining control of the game, it was Odisha who converted their only chance, showcasing clinical finishing. Isak Ralte attempted to extend the lead with a curled shot, but Poonia made a comfortable save before halftime.

The second half saw a turning point as Williams received a straight red card for an outburst towards the referee, leaving Bengaluru FC a man down.

Odisha FC continued to press, with Diego Mauricio attempting a header off Jahouh’s corner kick, but the effort went awry in the 49th minute.

Bengaluru FC showed great spirit and came close to scoring several times, almost equalising in the process.

Javi’s bicycle kick in the 58th minute forced a save from opponent goalkeeper Ralte and the Spanish player continued to threaten with another attempt that was thwarted by a last-ditch tackle from Ranawade.

As the clock ticked away, Bengaluru FC intensified their efforts. In the 81st minute, Damjanovic’s shot was superbly saved by Ralte. However, the offside flag was already raised, nullifying the potential equaliser.

In the 87th minute, Odisha still tried to double up their lead as Aniket Jadhav squandered a clear opportunity. Following that, Isaka Ralte’s shot got blocked, and Poonia easily grabbed Puitea’s header.