VASCO, November 29: Super-sub Diego Mauricio’s double strike helped Odisha FC stage a stunning comeback as they held Jamshedpur FC to a 2-2 draw in the Indian Super League encounter on Sunday.
Jamshedpur’s Nerijus Valskis dominated the first half, scoring twice (12′, 27′) and putting his team in a commanding position at the Tilak Maidan.
Mauricio grabbed headlines after the lemon break, pulling one back in the 77th minute before driving home a stunning injury-time equaliser, to wrap up a thrilling 2-2 draw.
It did not take long for Owen Coyle’s men to break the deadlock. Barely ten minutes into the match, Odisha goalkeeper Kamaljit Singh failed to deal with a cross and a goalmouth scramble ensued.
It ended with Valskis turning and shooting at goal from close range, only for it to strike Odisha defender Gaurav Bora’s hand resulting in a penalty.
Valskis made no mistake, handing his team the early lead.
The game cooled down after the goal with both teams struggling to create chances. But it was Valskis again who shook it out of its stupor. And yet again, it was an Odisha defensive mistake that led to it.
Around the half-hour mark, defender Shubham Sarangi leapt to clear a cross, but only succeeded in diverting it into Valskis’ path. The Lithuanian, who was at a difficult angle to the goal, managed to squeeze it in with a powerful drive.
Odisha did fashion the occasional attack with Marcelinho, in particular, remaining a threatening presence throughout the first half. But they struggled to create clear-cut chances.
They came alive in the second half with striker Manuel Onwu going close on a couple of occasions.
In the 53rd minute, the Spaniard cut into the box before taking a shot. His effort though went wide. Then in the 60th, his acrobatic shot was well-saved by Jamshedpur keeper TP Rehenesh.
There was more drama as Rehenesh was sent off in the 74th minute for handling the ball outside the penalty area.
Substitute Mauricio struck the resulting free-kick against the post, but the ball soon found its way back to him and he was able to bundle it in.
With ten-men Jamshedpur defending doggedly, it appeared as if Odisha were running out of time.
However, Mauricio had other ideas. In the stoppage time, the Brazilian unleashed a powerful shot from just inside the box that no goalkeeper would have saved, handing his team the first points of the season. (PTI)