Odisha FC were crowned the champions of the Super Cup football tournament after they prevailed over Bengaluru FC 2-1 in the summit showdown here on Tuesday, winning their first silverware. While Brazilian Diego Maurício struck both goals for the winners in the first half, Sunil Chhetri scored from a penalty in the 84th minute to reduce the margin for Bengaluru FC. Up against seasoned opponents in the shape of Bengaluru, Odisha did all the damage in the first half with two goals from Maurício. Clifford Miranda also made history, becoming the first Indian coach to win the Super Cup.
Bengaluru FC, playing their third final of the season, started off as the more authoritative of the two sides in a rain-marred kick-off.
The Blues kept plenty of possession in the opposition half, while Odisha, who had conceded two early goals in their last two games, were content with sitting back, making a cautious start to their first-ever final.
However, as the rain died down, so did Bengaluru’s command on the ball. Odisha began causing trouble from set-pieces, with Carlos Delgado’s close-range volley from Sahil Panwar’s corner providing them their first real chance. Sandesh Jhingan was on hand to make a last-ditch block for Bengaluru.
The breakthrough came in dramatic fashion for Odisha in the 23rd minute as Gurpreet Singh Sandhu made a hash of what should have been a routine collection from a harmless-looking Maurício free-kick.
The Brazilian’s shot was aimed straight at the Bengaluru custodian, who had his entire body behind the ball but let it slip out of his hand and trickle past the goalline.
Maurício went close again just a few minutes later, heading a Jerry Mawihmingthanga cross wide of the far post. But there was no stopping Odisha’s talisman the next time of asking as he made it 2-0 seven minutes before half-time.
It all started with a diagonal ball from Victor Rodriguez to pick out Jerry on the right, who headed it across the face of goal. Mauricio, racing past his marker Sandesh Jhingan, tapped it in with Gurpreet wrong-footed.
With Bengaluru looking dishevelled and completely on the backfoot, Miranda’s men continued to go full throttle and could’ve added to their lead before the break.
First, it was Nandha Kumar, who sent a curling volley from the edge of the box, which Gurpreet was equal to. Then it was Jerry again causing trouble down the flank, entering the box from the right before thundering a strong effort off the crossbar.
Bengaluru, arguably lucky to be only two goals down at half time, made as many as four changes in the second half.
Simon Grayson brought on Sivasakthi Narayanan, Pablo Perez, Prabir Das and Aleksandar Jovanovic in their bid to avoid a second final loss in just over a month.
However, Odisha continued to be their dominating self after the restart too as Gurpreet was kept busy in the Blues’ goal.
Just 40 seconds into the second half, he had to dive down low to parry away Mauricio’s long-range effort. Five minutes later, he was at full stretch to push over a cheeky chipped attempt from Victor over the crossbar.
Nandha, who had been a menace on the left wing, replicated his danger on the right as well. After being fed with a defence-splitting ball by Victor, Nandha sent a powerful low shot, which Prabir managed to deflect onto the side-netting.
It took 77 minutes for Bengaluru to test Amrinder with their first attempt on target. And it wasn’t particularly threatening as well. Pablo, out of options near the edge of the box, went for a low shot through a forest of legs, which Amrinder pushed away with ease.
With just six minutes to go, a ray of hope emerged for Bengaluru when Sivasakthi was brought down in the box by Nandha. The resulting penalty was lodged into the back of the net by the ever-reliable Chhetri with a one-step run-up.
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