Maurico saves the day for Odisha

Puts a dent on Blasters’ slim hopes of making the playoffs

It was a game it desperately wanted to win to keep alive its slim hopes of making the playoffs, but Kerala Blasters had to settle for a 2-2 draw with Odisha FC at the Fatorda Stadium, Margao, on Thursday night.

It was the twin strike from Diego Mauricio that saved the day for Odisha, while Jordan Murray and Gary Hooper scored for Blasters in a battle between the basement dwellers of the ISL.

Kibu Vicuna’s boys made their intention clear right from the beginning, as they pressed forward and Odisha was forced to defend hard and carefully.

Murray, Hooper, Sahal Abdul Samad and K.P. Rahul were a constant threat but failed to put Blasters ahead.

Murray got the first of those chances, in the ninth minute, but his shot from the edge of the box went over the bar.

At the stroke of half-time, much against the run of play, Odisha scored.

A splendid high ball from Jerry Mawihmingthanga found Mauricio, who beat Blasters’ sloppy defence and goalkeeper Albino Gomes to give Odisha an unexpected lead.

Blasters, however, came right back into the match seven minutes into the second half through Murray’s strike, off a splendid pass from Hooper.

Sixteen minutes later, it was Hooper’s turn to score, after being deftly set up inside the box by Sahal.

Just when Blasters looked likely of securing full points, its hopes were dashed by an unmarked Mauricio, who was assisted by Bradden Inman.

Both teams toiled for a winner, which never came, thanks in no small measure to some fine work by both the goalkeepers.

The result: Odisha FC 2 (Diego Mauricio 45 & 74) drew with Kerala Blasters 2 (Jordan Murray 52, Gary Hooper 68).

Friday’s match: East Bengal vs Hyderabad, 7.30 p.m.

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