Spanish midfielder Javi Hernandez scored two stunning goals as Odisha FC made a winning start to their Hero Indian Super League (ISL) campaign with a 3-1 victory over Bengaluru FC at the Tilak Maidan Stadium in Vasco, Goa on Wednesday. Hernandez scored in the third minute itself.
Meanwhile, Bengaluru FC equalised through Alan Costa in the 21st minute but Hernandez once again popped up six minutes after the interval to help Odisha FC regain the lead. Aridai Suarez then sealed the deal for Odisha FC deep in stoppage time with a third goal.
Bengaluru FC was slow to get off the blocks and it was evident in the miscommunication between the Bengaluru FC defenders and goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu who made a mess of a routine clearance. India No 1’s tame clearance found its way to Hernandez 30 yards from goal as the Spaniard who was cool as a cucumber lifted it over the out-of-position Sandhu to put Odisha FC ahead..
Four minutes later Odisha threatened again this time through Nandhakumar Sekar who used his pace to get past the Bengaluru FC defender and put in a teasing cross that just evaded the Odisha FC forwards.
Nandhakumar then squandered a big chance to score in the 12th minute when he was put through on goal with just one defender to beat and with options available for a pass but he chose to shoot and missed the target.
Bengaluru FC got their act together after a poor start and was rewarded in the 21st minute when the Brazilian Costa headed home a corner from Roshan Naorem. The goal boosted the Blues who began dominating proceedings.
Naorem then put in another delicious delivery into the Odisha FC box in the 28th minute that had the goalkeeper in two minds and Bengaluru FC almost profited.
Neither team could produce a moment of note in the remainder of the half as the game was locked at 1-1 at the interval.
The second half began almost as exactly as the first as confusion in the Bengaluru FC defence led to them conceding a free-kick in a dangerous area. Hernandez once again stepped up to punish the error as he curled a beautiful free-kick past Sandhu in the 51st minute.
Bengaluru FC responded by making three changes and were rewarded in the 61st minute when substitute Cleiton Silva beat Hendry Antonay to the ball to win a penalty. However, Sunil Chhetri’s effort was saved by Kamaljit Singh only for Silva to score on the follow up but the goal was eventually disallowed as the Brazilian had encroached the area before the penalty was taken.
Odisha had Kamaljit to thank again for preserving the advantage as he was alert to the danger when a cross almost found its way to Prince Ibara in the 80th minute, but the goalkeeper was alert to the danger and reached the ball before the Bengaluru FC forward. He then denied Udanta Singh’s low drilled from reaching its target two minutes from time before pulling off a really top save to deny Silva who was played in on goal by Chhetri in the 90th minute.
Odisha FC then put the result beyond doubt when Aridai Suarez added a third goal in the fourth minute of stoppage time.
This is Odisha FC’s first-ever win in their opening fixture and also their first one over Bengaluru FC.
The Blues now face Kerala Blasters on Sunday while Odisha FC take on SC East Bengal on Tuesday.