In a dramatic showdown under the floodlights at Kolkata’s Salt Lake Stadium, Mohun Bagan Super Giant orchestrated a late-game spectacle, scoring twice to secure a nail-biting 2-2 draw against Odisha FC in the pulsating Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 fixture.
The turning point occurred in the 30th minute when Mohun Bagan’s defensive linchpin, Subhasish Bose, found himself in a precarious position, handling the ball inside the box and conceding a clear-cut spot-kick to the visitors. The responsibility fell on the shoulders of Jahouh, the midfield maestro, who approached the penalty with unwavering confidence. Jahouh executed the spot-kick with clinical precision, directing the ball into the bottom right corner and putting Odisha FC in the lead.
However, Jahouh, not content with just converting the penalty, showcased his hunger for more moments of brilliance on the vibrant Kolkata turf. Just moments before the halftime whistle, Diego Mauricio of Odisha FC engineered a mesmerizing sequence of play. In a display of nimble footwork, Mauricio cut into the left side of the Mariners’ box, setting the stage for a perfectly squared pass to the advancing Jahouh.
The former Mumbai City FC star exhibited sublime skill, striking the ball into the back of the net with his first touch, setting off a jubilant celebration for the away side. The first-half brace by Jahouh was particularly noteworthy, considering his prior track record of averaging an ISL goal every 1665.5 minutes.
In a strategic move by coach Sergio Lobera, a two-goal lead prompted the substitution of Ahmed Jahouh in the 57th minute, as Lenny Rodrigues replaced him. Despite the decision to fortify the advantage, the departing player left an indelible mark on the game, concluding his performance with an impressive record of winning six tackles, the highest in the ISL 2023-24 for a single match, maintaining a flawless 100% success rate.
The Mariners, undeterred by the substitution, orchestrated a riveting comeback that showcased the team’s resilience. Kiyan Nassiri, displaying an upward trajectory in his contributions to the squad, exhibited swift awareness in the 59th minute. A deftly executed short pass by Nassiri set the stage for Armando Sadiku to make his mark. Despite operating in the shadows of more renowned offensive teammates like Jason Cummings and Dimitri Petratos, Sadiku, now in his 15th year of professional football, proved that his prowess should not be underestimated.
A testament to the hallmark of a seasoned striker, Sadiku demonstrated an innate ability to be at the right place at the right time. Though he might fly under the radar for significant stretches of the game, his moment arrived and in spectacular fashion.
With his initial goal, Mohun Bagan narrowed the gap against Odisha FC. While it seemed poised to be a mere consolation strike, Sadiku’s destiny-altering moment materialized when Hector Yuste delivered a precise ball to the centre of the box. With clinical precision, Sadiku unleashed a shot past the opposition goalkeeper, Amrinder Singh, securing the crucial equalizer.
Sadiku’s brace transcended conventional heroics; it not only salvaged a point for the Mariners but also reinforced their confidence. With an impressive tally of 15 points from their initial five games, Mohun Bagan has embarked on a remarkable journey in the ISL 2023-24 season. The striker’s invaluable contributions ensured that the team’s morale remained undeterred, solidifying their fantastic start to the season regardless of the specific outcome of this particular game.
The match did not go well in the books of Mohun Bagan SG as they lost a few players due to injury from this match. Hugo Boumous picked up a hamstring injury during the training session before the match and was replaced by Jason Cummings. Anirudh Thapa and Sahal Abdul Samad picked up a niggle during the match and is not expected to start the next fixture. Even Glan Martins who came on the pitch to replace the injured Sahal Abdul Samad also had to leave the pitch due to an injury within twenty minutes.
However, the match ended on a bitter note as players of both the sides ended up in a tussle following some controversial decisions taken by the match referee. Notably, the head coach of Mohun Bagan SG – Juan Ferrando and Odisha FC’s Diego Maurício were being sent off after the match. The support staff of both the teams had to interfere in order to neutralize the situation post match.
Following this match, Odisha FC is scheduled to face Hyderabad FC in their upcoming ISL fixture on December 17. Meanwhile, the Mariners will be on the road, set to clash with NorthEast United FC in Guwahati on December 15.
Follow IFTWC for more updates on Indian football.