Odisha FC relied on two second-half goals to post a comprehensive 2-0 win over Kerala Blasters in a Group D match of the Durand Cup football tournament at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati on Tuesday.
Issac Vanmalsawma provided the breakthrough in the 51 st minute and Spaniard Saul Crespo doubled the lead in the 74 th minute as Odisha secured its second successive win.
Blasters, who had a 1-1 draw against Sudeva Delhi in its first match, hardly tested the Odisha defence.
Following a thumping 6-0 win over NorthEast United FC, the experienced Odisha side used its flanks to put pressure on Blasters. However, the Blasters defence withstood the pressure in the first half.
Odisha had a few good chances. In the 22nd minute, Issac got a loose ball in the goalmouth but shot it over. In the 35th minute, Jerry sent an excellent ball into the box. An industrious Nandha Kumar rushed in from the left to head it, only to see Blasters’ custodian Sachin Suresh blocking the attempt.
Odisha got the lead six minutes after resumption. Coming in off the bench, Brazilian Diego Mauricio beat two defenders on the right and cut it back for an unmarked Vanmalsawma in the box to slot in.
Odisha missed some opportunities before netting its second goal as Crespo guided in an Osama Malik header.
Later, Bengaulru FC’s new attacking combination of Sunil Chhetri and Roy Krishna delivered once more as the former I-League and Indian Super League champion breezed past Indian Air Force 4-0 in Group A at the Kishore Bharati Stadium in Kolkata.
The two struck once each in the first half to set Bengaluru on the winning path. Substitutes Faisal Ali and Siva Sakthi added two more after the interval.
The Krishna-Chhetri combo, which was instrumental in the opening game win over Jamshedpur FC, continued in similar vein. Krishna gave Bengaluru the lead in the ninth minute off a fine solo effort.
Chhetri fetched the insurance goal in the 23rd minute as he latched on to a long cross from Prabir Das and volleyed home.
Bengaluru dominated the action and Faisal found the third goal in the 71st minute when another substitute Udanta Singh set him up with a nice cross. Siva Sakthi, who replaced Chhetri in the final quarter, provided the finishing touch when he found the net in injury-time (90+3).
The win helped Benguluru FC join Mohammedan Sporting on top of the group league standings with six points from two wins each.
The result:Group D: Odisha FC 2 (Vanmalsawma 51, Crespo 74) bt Kerala Blasters 0.
Group A: Bengaluru FC 4 (Krishna 9, Chhetri 23, Faisal 71, Siva Sakthi 90+3) bt Indian Air Force 0.