Odisha FC held on to seal a 1-1 draw against FC Goa at the Kalinga Stadium on Monday, despite being a man down for the final quarter of the game. First-half goals from Noah Sadaoui and Diego Mauricio had set up a big second half for the two playoff contenders who will, nonetheless, likely be happy with a result that didn't damage either of their prospects.
FC Goa got off to the perfect start when Sadaoui put them ahead in the second minute. Alvaro Vazquez picked up the ball in midfield as Odisha FC were looking to push forward, and found Sadaoui with a through ball on the left side of the box. Odisha FC's defence was spread out and tracking back as the forward found time to compose himself and drive the ball past Amrinder's left hand.
Odisha FC did manage to create the better chances from there on, often from the left with Isak Ralte being their outlet. FC Goa defended narrowly and in numbers for the majority of the half, offering very little for the hosts to breach, until Ralte was fouled a few yards outside the box towards the end of the half. Mauricio stepped up to take the resulting free-kick and powered a curler that was too much for Dheeraj Singh leaping to his right.
FC Goa nearly went back into the lead before the end of the half, with Sadaoui and Vazquez switching roles on this occasion. Sadaoui's cross from the left flank found the striker who had beaten his marker, but got his glancing header just wide.
The two combined yet again in what was an electric period of end-to-end football early in the second half. Sadaoui played Vazquez through, who found the back of the net before he saw the flag raised for offside. In the next minute, Nandhakumar Sekar put in a perfectly weighted cross that found Saul Crespo's powerful header, only for Dheeraj to pounce to his right and save. From there, FC Goa managed to get the ball out to Sadaoui whose long shot was straight at the keeper.
This pace to the game temporarily came to a stop as Odisha FC were forced to slow things down in the 67th minute, when left-back Sahil Panwar picked up a second yellow for a challenge from behind. With no major attacking push coming from FC Goa, the home side made a spate of positive-minded substitutions in the 81st minute, shortly after Amrinder had made a crucial save as Hernan Santana's shot came through a crowded penalty box.
While these substitutions didn't translate into chances for Odisha FC, they also didn't face any substantial threats to their goal until the end of the game, barring a free-kick from Brandon Fernandes that went over and a deflected long-range shot from Santana that Amrinder kept his eyes on.
The result put Odisha FC level on matches with Bengaluru FC, but a point behind sixth place, while FC Goa remain in fourth. Odisha FC stay at home to face Hyderabad FC on Friday, while FC Goa head back home to face Mumbai City FC on Saturday.