Javi Hernandez scored two stunning goals for Odisha FC as they opened their Hero Indian Super League (ISL) campaign with a 3-1 win over Bengaluru FC on Wednesday at the Tilak Maidan Stadium in Vasco, Goa.
After Hernandez scored in the third minute for Odisha FC, Bengaluru FC equalized through Alan Costa in the 21st minute, but Hernandez again gave Odisha FC the lead six minutes after the break. With the third goal in stoppage time, Aridai Suarez sealed the deal for Odisha FC.
Bengaluru FC made a mess of a routine clearance when Bengaluru FC defenders miscommunicated with their goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu. Hernandez was cool as a cucumber as he lifted the ball over the out-of-position Sandhu 30 yards from goal to give Odisha FC the lead.
In the fourth minute, Odisha threatened again through Nandhakumar Sekar, who accelerated past the Bengaluru FC defender and crossed a teasing ball that just evaded the Odisha FC forwards.
In the 12th minute, Nandhakumar had a great opportunity to score 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 instead and missed the target.
Bengaluru FC pulled together after a poor start and was rewarded in the 21st minute when Brazilian Costa headed in a corner from Roshan Naorem. The Blues then took control of the match.
The 28th minute saw Naorem deliver another tasty delivery into the box of Odisha FC that almost led to a Bengaluru FC goal.
At halftime, the score was 1-1, as neither team was able to produce a noteworthy moment.
As in the first half, the second half began with Bengaluru FC conceding a free-kick in a dangerous area after confusion in the defense. As a result, Hernandez curled a beautiful free-kick past Sandhu in the 51st minute to punish the error.
Bengaluru FC responded by making three changes and was rewarded with a penalty in the 61st minute when substitute Cleiton Silva beat Hendry Antonay to the ball. Sunil Chhetri's effort was saved by Kamaljit Singh only for Silva to score on the follow-up, although the goal was disallowed because the Brazilian had encroached on the penalty area before the kick was taken.
Once again Odisha had Kamaljit to thank for preserving their advantage, as he was alert to the danger when a cross almost reached Bengaluru FC forward Prince Ibara in the 80th minute, but the goalkeeper reached the ball before Ibara could reach it. Two minutes from time, he denied Udanta Singh's low drilled attempt from reaching its target; two minutes later, he denied Silva, who was played in by Chhetri.
Odisha FC sealed the result when Aridai Suarez added a third goal in stoppage time.
It's Odisha FC's first victory in their first match, as well as their first victory over Bengaluru FC.
Odisha FC now takes on SC East Bengal on Tuesday while Kerala Blasters take on the Blues on Sunday.