ISL 2023-24: Odisha FC sets the tone under Lobera with convincing 2-0 win against Chennaiyin FC

Diego Mauricio celebrates after scoring against Chennaiyin FC.
Diego Mauricio celebrates after scoring against Chennaiyin FC.

Goals in either halves by Jerry Mawihmingthanga and Diego Mauricio helped Odisha FC defeat Chennaiyin FC by 2-0 at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar to start their Indian Super League (ISL) 2023 campaign on a victorious note on Saturday.

Odisha seemed to have adapted into new head coach Sergio Lobera's philosophy seamlessly right from the offset. They held the major chunk of the possession and kept probing the Chennaiyin defence with their fluid offensive moves but neither of the two teams came close to breaking the deadlock until Jerry found the breakthrough courtesy of some incredible coordination upfront in the 45th minute of the game.

Goalkeeper Samik Mitra failed to handle a long-range shot properly, which landed in fullback Amey Ranawade's feet on the right hand side of the 18-yard box. Ranawade squared up a neat pass to Jerry, who turned around swiftly and shot firmly from his left foot into the bottom right corner to hand the Odisha the vital lead heading into the half-time break.

Chennaiyin came close to levelling the scores shortly after the break. They won a corner in the 56th minute and the duo of Lazar Cirkovic and Connor Shields scrapped through to somehow equalise. However, a resilient Odisha backline spearheaded by goalkeeper Amrinder Singh ensured that the team kept the visitors at bay.

Lobera reinforced Odisha's attack by bringing in Brazilian forward Diego Mauricio for Jiteshwor Singh as the second half progressed. Mauricio, the joint-highest goal-scorer of the previous ISL season, instantly pounced upon a defensive error by Ankit Mukerjee to bag the home side's second goal of the night. Mukherjee fumbled a back pass that ended in Mauricio's pathway, who rounded off Mitra to calmly slot the ball into the back of the net.

Odisha grew in confidence thereafter as they tested the Chennaiyin defence pretty closely in the final 20 minutes of the match. First, Isak Vanlalruatfela came close to furthering the lead but his shot ended up slightly wayward off the post in the 73rd minute. A few minutes later, towering defender Mourtada Fall jumped high amidst a tight space but ended up heading the ball faintly off target.

Odisha FC will host Mumbai City FC in their next encounter on September 28, which will also mark the first time that Lobera will take on his former club in the ISL. Chennaiyin will travel to Guwahati to take on the NorthEast United FC on September 29 for their upcoming match in the league.