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Crucial victory for Chennaiyin as bad start costs Odisha again

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Chennaiyin ended their four-game winless streak at the expense of the lower ranked Odisha …

Odisha found himself two goals at the break against Chennaiyin in their 11th game of the Indian Super League 2020-21 (ISL).

They managed to improve their performance in the second half, but in the end the result was what Stuart Baxter has grown used to this season – a painful loss.

You could argue that Odisha deserved a point for her efforts, but the near comebacks in the second half don’t make up for the team’s poor starts.

Of the 18 goals Odisha has conceded this season in the ISL, 13 were in the first half. And that’s the highest tally in the league. Once again, Odisha’s poor start cost them three extremely valuable points. And as a result, they’re still at the bottom of the table with just one win in 11 matches.

Baxter’s lineup has had some surprising but understandable changes. Diego Mauricio, their best player this season, had to rest due to fatigue. Manuel Onwu and Marcelinho had the chance to impress and neither of them did.

Chennaiyin, on the other hand, was keen to impress from the start. There was a noticeable desperation to score the first goal in the opening moments of the game and in the end they had two.

Gaurav Bora, who had looked promising in previous meetings, had a very forgettable first half as he was directly responsible for the two goals scored by Isma Goncalves. His bad touch allowed Isma to snatch the ball outside the box and pass the keeper to break the deadlock. Bora fouled Anirudh Thapa inside the box and conceded a kick which was converted by Isma to double the lead.

Although the Machans recorded over 60% possession of the ball in the first half, the intensity dropped after the break and Odisha returned to the game. A delicious curling effort from Diego Mauricio brought the game to a nervous end.

But Laszlo, desperate to end his team’s four-game winless streak, brought Deepak Tangri in place of goalscorer Isma and called for an organized set-up to maintain their lead. Laszlo will be happy that his team finally converted the chances they created, but the game against Odisha also witnessed some missed opportunities in front of goal as Odisha pushed forward in search of their tie.

Chennaiyin failed to finish the game and it is questionable what would have happened against a fitter team. As for Odisha, the focus should be on how not to lose games in the first half itself.