ISL Playoffs 2023/24: Extra-time winner helps Odisha FC continue home domination, defeat Kerala Blasters 2-1

Isak Ralte for Odisha FC
Isak Ralte for Odisha FC (PC: Odisha FC/X)

The first match of the ongoing Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 playoffs took place at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneshwar as home team, Odisha FC took on Kerala Blasters FC. Sergio Lobera and Co started the game as favourites due to their home form this season. Ivan Vukomanovic’s side had a tough task in hand.

Before the game, Kerala Blasters’ fans were chuffed to see Adrian Luna back in the squad after a long injury layoff. However, on the other hand, their goal scorer, Dimitrios Diamantakos again missed the cut. The Juggernauts began the game cautiously but Kerala ensured to hit them with were some stellar counter attacks in the first 20 minutes. In the 27th minute, Mourtada Fall gave a 1-0 lead to Odisha with an assist from Ahmed Jahouh. However, Jahouh was caught offside with the goal being disallowed.

Despite some half chances on both ends, the first half ended goalless.

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Mauricio celebrating with fans
Mauricio celebrating with fans (PC: Odisha FC/X)

In the 53rd minute, Aimen hit the woodwork following a save from from Amrinder. Soon after, the visitors broke the deadlock, courtesy of Cerynch who managed to put the ball in the left-bottom corner with an assist from Aimen. Soon after the goal, Adrien Luna was welcomed by the whole crowd at Kalinga with a huge round of applause.

The home team were rewarded for their tenacity in the 87th minute. Diego Mauricio came to the rescue and scored the equaliser after an assist from Roy Krishna. It ended 1-1 after 90 minutes and the match went to extra-time.

It did not take long for Lobera’s side to take the lead as in the 98th minute, Isak Ralte scored their second goal. It was a magical no-look lofted pass from Jahouh to Krishna who put a cross into the box and the Indian midfielder did not make any mistakes finding the net. Odisha then managed to hold the lead till the last whistle and won the game 2-1. Diamantakos looked absolutely shattered and it was a heartbreaking moment for Kerala fans as well.

Lobera and his side will face this season’s Shield winner, Mohun Bagan Super Giant in the semi-final.

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