ISL 2021-22: Odisha bags home full points after a narrow 1-0 win against NorthEast United
It was a cagey encounter between Odisha FC and North East United FC where the Kalinga Warriors came out on top
Odisha FC bag home all three points in their Indian Super League 2021-22 match in a smash and grab encounter against NorthEast United. Jonathas de Jesus' solitary goal was enough for the Kalinga Warriors to return to winning ways as Khalid Jamil's men were left ruing their missed chances.
It was a very cagey game with both sides missing a lot of goalscoring opportunities until Odisha's Brazilian target man came up with the killer blow for the Highlanders. This win will take Odisha FC to the second position in the points table. Kiko Ramirez's men are now in touching distance with league leaders, Mumbai City.
Here are the talking points from Odisha FC's win over Northeast United FC.
Wasteful NorthEast rue their missed opportunities
North East United looked really good in the first half as they created some of the best chances of this game. But both Deshorn Brown and Matheus Coureur were guilty of being wasteful in front of goal. Both the foreign strikers found their way past the Odisha defence line but they simply could not find a way past goalkeeper Kamaljit Singh.
Even in the post-match interview Deshorn Brown was disheartened as he claimed that had the Highlanders taken their first-half chances, the game would have been over for Odisha. His words put emphasis on NorthEast United's wasteful nature this season. Khalid Jamil needs to sort this issue out as early as possible as they look to make it to the playoffs, the second time in a row.
Thoiba's claim to fame
The former Minerva Punjab midfielder has finally made a name for himself in the Indian Super League this season for the Kalinga Warriors. Thoiba's passion and dedication for the sport have helped him earn a place in the starting lineup and since then he has been a pivotal figure in Kiko Ramirez's team.
Thoiba's primary attribute is his relentless stamina and his versatility. His passing has drastically improved in the last couple of years. The youngster changed the course of play today by winning the ball in midfield and then drilling in a great cross from his weak foot for Jonathas from where he simply couldn't miss.
While the Brazilian will take home all the awards, we must laud the performance of the young Indian midfielder who was simply sensational against the Highlanders.
Turnaround for Jonathas?
Probably the most high profile signing of this summer in India, Jonathas Jesus has come to the ISL with loads of experience in top tiers leagues in Germany, Italy, Spain etc. The 32-year-old is a prolific goalscorer but was yet to prove himself on Indian shores. He lost his place in the starting lineup to Aridai Cabrera as the latter scored three goals.
However, that narrative changed today as the big Brazilian scored the solitary goal in Odisha's 1-0 win over the Highlanders. The 32-year-old will hope that the goal will rejuvenate him and give him the confidence to score more in future matches.
He definitely has the pedigree to find the net more consistently but lacked that conviction till today. It is a great sign for Odisha and Kiko Ramirez that their star striker has finally got his name on the scoresheet.
Kiko Ramirez's trust in young players
The Spaniard has been excellent in his maiden year in Indian football. He has shown immense trust in Indian youngsters and has reaped the rewards. Last day even in defeat against Kerala Blasters he saw substitute Nikhil Raj scoring for the Kalinga Warriors, followed by a great performance from Thoiba today.
Isak Vanlalruatfela has been sensational for them in his cameo appearances. Similarly, Hendry Antonay and Lalruatthara have been decent enough in fullback roles. Overall his trust in young Indian players must be lauded especially in his first year in the country.
All the youngsters have proven their mettle for Odisha this season. They have the passion and the dedication to change the course of games. Just like Thoiba did today with the assist and Isaki did by scoring against SC East Bengal.
Northeast United's sorry state continues
The Highlanders have been massive inconsistent this season. They have failed to take their chances in attack and have made some woeful errors in defence to concede cheap goals. Their team balance also looks a bit off, especially after Federico Gallgeo's injury.
Today Hernan Santana played in defence for the Highlander and gave some assurance. But the forwards made a mess of their chances and eventually they lost the game due to a late goal from Jonathas.
Khalid is in a major fix to get his team combination right. Playing Santana in midfield gives them a lot of control and creativity and also allows the others to play with a lot of freedom. However, it creates a big void at the back, something on which the opponents look to capitalise on.
Northeast United's Australian defender Patrick Flottmann has not managed to impress anyone and therefore it only increases Khalid Jamil's headache for the upcoming matches.