The Indian Super League 2021-22 season is picking up pace as it heads into the second week of action. Odisha FC and Bengaluru FC came up against each other tonight at the Tilak Maidan Stadium in Goa. Kiko Ramirez led his team for the first time in the ISL and came away with three vital points. As for Marco Pezzaiuoli, it was his first defeat in the competition after the win against NorthEast United FC in the previous fixture. Two goals from Javi Hernandez and a late goal from Airam Suarez canceled out Alan Costa's goal for the opposition.
This was the first-ever win for the Juggernauts over the Blues in the ISL, and they deserved every bit of it. The game was very entertaining, with four goals to show for it. Among many interesting events, there was a controversial incident in the second half after a BFC goal from the penalty spot was disallowed by the referee. Several important topics of discussion emerged from the match, and here are the top five talking points from Odisha FC's win over Bengaluru FC:
Javi Hernandez will be invaluable for Odisha FC
After signing for the club in the summer transfer window, Javi Hernandez made his debut for Odisha FC tonight. The Spaniard was in the thick of things and a focal point for Kiko Ramirez's men. He opened the scoring in the fourth minute with a sublime long-range finish. To add a cherry at the top, Hernandez scored his second goal of the night from a direct free kick in the second half.
The former ATK midfielder kept the ball moving and looked adventurous while in possession of it. It is clear that if Odisha FC is to improve on their last season's performance, then Hernandez will be crucial to their cause.
Communication problems at the back for Bengaluru FC
The opening goal of the match came at the cost of poor communication from the BFC backline. Gurpreet Singh Sandhu and Alan Costa were not on the same page while dealing with a long ball and showed hesitancy in solving the situation. Eventually, Gurpreet's poor clearance gave Javi Hernandez an empty goal to aim at. The Spaniard made no mistake and lofted the ball into the net from approximately 40-yards out.
Marco Pezzaiuoli was in total shock and could not believe his eyes. It is worth noting that the center-back partnership consisting of Costa and Musavu-King is a relatively new one. Sandhu's communication with the defenders needs more attention, or else the other teams will take advantage of this miscommunication.
Ashique Kuruniyan's role as a left-back
Ashique Kuruniyan's shift to a left-back role seems permanent, as evident from the first two matches. He started on the left flank and did not look comfortable at all. A poor start saw Kuruniyan miscue a 40-yard backpass, which went out from the goal line for a corner. Later, he saw a yellow card after getting caught out of position in the 13th minute of the match and fouling an OFC player to prevent the counter-attack. The 24-year-old's poor night came to an end when the gaffer decided to replace him with Sarthak Golui in the second half.
One can easily contrast the fortunes of Kuruniyan and Udanta Singh. While the former is struggling to make a mark in a new restrictive role, Udanta expresses himself well in an attacking role. There was a time when the pair was considered as a lethal combo on either wing. The question remains if Ashique Kuruniyan is wasting away as a full-back while his qualities are more suitable in the attacking third.
Hector Rodas and Victor Mongil's partnership looks promising
Odisha FC had new faces in the defensive backline as well. Former ISL champion Victor Mongil paired up with newcomer Hector Rodas in the heart of the defense. Kiko Ramirez was quick to recruit the defenders as it was a problem area last season for OFC. The Juggernauts have a competent attacking unit if they can keep things composed at the back.
The center-backs were solid tonight against a tough side like Bengaluru FC, which has brilliant forward players. Despite strong opposition, the defenders kept the Blues silent and did not allow them too many clear scoring chances.
The penalty incident
A huge talking point from the game was the penalty incident in the 64th minute. After a soft foul from Hendry Anthony, it looked like the Blues would come to level terms again by scoring the second goal from the spot-kick. As it would happen, Kamaljit Singh made a great save from Sunil Chhetri but could not prevent the follow-up strike from going into the net.
However, the referee ruled it out because Cleiton Silva breached the penalty area before the spot-kick was taken. The goal did not stand, which could have been a huge turning point in the game. From that moment onwards, BFC players lacked drive, and Odisha scored a late third, thus winning the game comfortably.