Photo Credit: ISL Media Twitter (https://twitter.com/IndSuperLeague/status/1330903655197753345/photo/1)
ISL: Hyderabad record first-ever clean sheet win
It took the Hyderabad side nineteen games to record a clean sheet.
Hyderabad FC defeated Odisha FC by 1-0 in their campaign opener on Monday at the GMC Bambolim Athletic Stadium in Goa. This win was not only Hyderabad's first over Odisha but also was the first-ever instance where the side managed to keep a clean sheet.
Aridane Santana's goal from the penalty spot was the only difference between the two sides on the night.
The first chance of the match fell to Hyderabad FC, as Santana managed to attempt a free header, which, however, was off the target.
Another corner just a couple of minutes later was saved by Odisha goalkeeper Arshdeep Singh, as Akash Mishra's powerful shot from a pass to the edge of the penalty box threatened the goalmouth.
Hyderabad continued to enter deep into Odisha's territory and another cross from the right side at the 26th minute was headed wide by Santana, thanks to the pressure created by Odisha skipper Steven Taylor.
Finally, Hyderabad managed to earn the lead in the 34th minute, when Manuel Onwu gave the ball away in the midfield courtesy of a poor pass that was intercepted by Halicharan Narzary, who then attempted to shoot inside the box, only to hit the outstretched arm of Steven Taylor, who had gone to the ground in an attempt to block the shot. Taylor got booked, following which Santana scored from the spot to put the visitors in the lead.
Four minutes later, Odisha tried to equalize when Manuel Onwu tried to score off a header, which was easily saved by Hyderabad custodian, Subrata Pal. This was followed by shots from Santana and Narzary that were more promising, as the Odisha custodian made excellent saves to keep the deficit to one goal till the halfway mark.
Odisha started the second half with more conviction upfront but didn't manage to threaten enough. A weak shot from Onwu just at the hour mark was easily saved.
A header off a set-piece from Joao Victor in the 63rd minute almost doubled the lead for the visitors but was ruled offside.
As if the challenge upfront was not enough, substitute Liston Colaco, with his speedy runs on left-wing created problems for the hosts' defense. Aridane once again had a chance to score from a header just two minutes before the blow of the final whistle, which again was off the target. Odisha did not find an opportunity to equalize even with five minutes of added time.
Overall, Hyderabad was the better side with more possession (53%) and more passing accuracy (72%).
Coach Manolo Marquez was happy with his team's outing, “I’m really very happy. Even in pre-season we conceded two goals in every game except against Bengaluru where we drew 1-1. But this is our first clean sheet and it’s a reason to be satisfied,” he said.
The coach said he has a direct approach to the playing style, "We have to play with the style of the players. With our players, we need to play long balls and second plays. For me, if we want to get good results, we need to manage the game. Sometimes we aren’t very strong physically and we need to have the ball, keep possession. Sometimes when the other team is attacking, it isn’t easy for our team because we aren’t that strong physically.”
The Spaniard further heaped praises on defender Akash Mishra, "We spoke to him about him making his Hero ISL debut. I think he’s very quiet while playing and has a very good mentality. For me, he will be one of the best left-backs in India very soon. I think he’s a very good left-back and he has to improve.”
Odisha's coach Stuart Baxter felt that the short preseason time was to be blamed, “I don’t think we got enough pre-season practice. I’m no different from the other coaches, we would all like to have had more time with our players. The fact that we were chasing the game, [that] gave way to frustration and that led to some ill-timed challenges,” he said.
On the penalty, the cause of the team's loss, he felt that Taylor should be more careful, "He needs to be a bit more careful. I think it was a penalty. Just before that we gave the ball away and put Stevie in a bad position. He was trying to block, the ball hit his hand but technically it’s a penalty,” he said.