Durand Cup 2022: Odisha FC stun Kerala Blasters FC 2-0 to register second win

Odisha FC recorded a solid win over Kerala Blasters FC in the Durand Cup 2022 on Tuesday to strengthen their bid for a place in the quarter-finals. Odisha FC picked up from what they had left against NorthEast United FC as their dominant display against Kerala Blasters FC ensured a 2-0 victory at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati on Tuesday (August 23).

Two fine strikes from Isaac Vanmalsawma (52′) and new signing Saul Crespo (74′) broke open the Tuskers’ defence to hand them a secure victory as they remained at the top of the points table. The game remained static in the opening minutes of the game, with neither team dominating the play, keeping their respective side defensively compact.

Odisha FC started to find pockets of spaces through the Blasters` midfield and Jerry Mawihmingthanga curled one in from his left foot but his shot lacked power and landed in the keeper Sachin Suresh`s hands. With constant troubles being handed to Tomas Tchorz`s side, Odisha FC continued to find their way through in the final third but the Blasters were resolute and kept composure off the ball.

In the 23rd minute, Isaac received a ball inside the box from Nandakumar Sekar and took a shot but the midfielder failed to hit the target in what was the side`s first big chance of the game.The Juggernauts continued to threaten the Blasters` defence, through Jerry again who found Nandakumar Sekar open and unmarked on the left, but the latter`s header was effectively denied by Suresh who made clever use of his legs to keep the score level.

Diego Mauricio, who got subbed on for Pedro Martin, became the key differentiator for Odisha FC as he helped his side find the opener of the game six minutes into the second half. The striker ran down the right after getting past a defender and found Isaac in the box with a cutback as the midfielder made no mistake in slotting it home to put his side through. The chances kept coming for Josep Gombau’s men as Saul Crespo managed to put a line-breaking pass to Mauricio who was through on goal but his shot was clamped down by Tejas who managed to make a block well within time.

Minutes later, Odisha FC opened the floodgates for another goal after a sloppy defensive clearance by the Blasters led to Saul Crespo capitalising on the ball and comfortably finding the back of the net from a tap-in. A brilliant one-two between Akshunna Tyagi and Diego Mauricio gave the Blasters a scare for a third goal but Sachin Suresh had nerves of steel as he made himself big to save the Brazilian`s shot.

The Kalinga Warriors were inches away from getting the third one of the day as Tyagi’s shot hit the crossbar from a decent position. Josep Gombau`s men will clash against Sudeva Delhi FC a week later while the Blasters will take their guard against NorthEast United FC on Sunday.