Spanish midfielder Javi Hernandez scored two stunning goals as Odisha FC made a winning start to their Hero Indian Super League campaign with a 3-1 victory over Bengaluru FC, at Tilak Maidan stadium in Vasco, Goa, on Wednesday.
Hernandez opened the scoring in the third minute for Odisha before Bengaluru restored parity through Alan Costa in the 21st minute.
Hernandez again popped up six minutes after the interval to enable Odisha regain the lead and Aridai Suarez sealed the deal for Odisha deep into stoppage time.
The Bengaluru side was slow to get off the blocks and it was evident in the miscommunication between their defenders and goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, who made a mess of a routine clearance.
The India No 1’s tame clearance found its way to Hernandez 30 yards from goal and the Spaniard calmly lifted the ball over the out-of-position ‘keeper to put Odisha ahead.
Bengaluru got their act together after a poor start and were rewarded in the 21st minute when the Brazilian Costa headed home a corner from Roshan Naorem.
Neither team could produce a moment of note in the remainder of the half as the teams went into the break 1-1.
The second half began almost as exactly as the first. Confusion in the Bengaluru defence led to them conceding a free-kick. Hernandez again stepped up to punish the error and curled a beautiful free-kick past Sandhu in the 51st minute.
Bengaluru 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. However, 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. 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 by Chhetri in the 90th minute.
Odisha 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 over Bengaluru FC.
The Blues now face Kerala Blasters on Sunday while Odisha FC take on SC East Bengal on Tuesday.