Odisha registered just their second win of the ongoing Indian Super League (ISL) season on Saturday after shockingly beating SC East Bengal 6-5 – a new record for most goals scored in a match – at the GMC Stadium in Goa.
It was this season’s last game for both the teams, and a dead rubber as both of them had already gone out of the race for playoff berths.
For the last team in the point table, doubles from two Indian youngsters Paul Ramfangzauva (49th minute, 66th) and Jerry Mawihmingthanga (51st, 67th) enabled them to end the season enthusiastically, with S Lalhrezuala (33rd) and Diego Mauricio (69th) chipping in.
Goals from Anthony Pilkington (24th), Aaron Joshua Holloway (60th, 90th), Jeje Lalpekhlua (74th) and an own goal from Odisha goalkeeper Ravi Kumar (37th) made up the Kolkata giants’ tally.
East Bengal scored the first goal. Pilkington showed some great skill, striding forward into the box and unleashing a shot past Kumar.
They dominated play soon after the goal and it looked like Odisha were in for another long night. However, they managed to turn the narrative on its head when S Lalhrezuala found the net. The goal came from a corner that the East Bengal defence failed to deal with properly, something that has cost them all season.
But they were soon to retake the lead and the goal, which came just minutes later through a comedy of errors from Odisha. They failed to clear a corner properly and the ball fell to Manuel Onwu near the goalline. His clearance smacked goalkeeper Kumar in the face and went right in.
East Bengal would carry the lead into the halftime break, but it would not last too long after the start of the second half. The equaliser was a magnificent individual effort from Ramfangzauva, who bent one in past East Bengal goalkeeper Subrata Paul. Then it was another Indian youngster’s turn to hand Odisha the lead, Jerry headed in Onwu’s well-crafted cross.
The Kolkata club, though, weren’t behind for long and it was Holloway who found the net for them. His low shot from outside the box eluded Ravi and trickled into goal after hitting the upright.
But Ramfangzauva was not done yet. After an Odisha shot was blocked at the edge of the box, the youngster got the ball and unleashed a shot that went through the legs of a couple of defenders before beating Subrata.
Jerry was not to be undone by his teammate though. A chipped pass from Mauricio found Jerry free in the box and the youngster smashed a shot past the hapless Subrata.
Any hope of an East Bengal comeback was quickly buried by Mauricio, who converted a freekick, driving a low shot past Subrata. Odisha thus completed their turnaround with three goals in three minutes.
There was still time for more drama as East Bengal pulled one back. Jacques Maghoma found Pilkington at the far post and the latter squared it to Jeje, who scored his first ISL goal in East Bengal colours. Holloway, then scored again in injury time, but it was too late for East Bengal.
With IANS inputs