All Roads Lead to VYBK | Mohun Bagan vs Odisha FC Match Review | Indian Super League Semi Final 1 |

The newly crowned champions of India, Mohun Bagan suffered a narrow defeat in the first leg of the ISL cup semi final away at the Kalinga. In a fiercely contested away game marked with controversies both on the field and in the stands, the mariners will feel to be unlucky to not have come out from the match with at least a draw. This loss would hurt Habas and the team, but it will hurt even more as Armando Sadiku will not be available for the second leg.

Odisha FC have been unbeaten at home all season, and hence the task was cut out from the very beginning. Habbas picked an unchanged eleven from the team which won the league shield for Bagan. Vishal started in goal, the back three was made of the ever dependable trio of Hector, Anwar and Subhasish. Thapa, Kauko and Abhishek started in the midfield with Liston and Manvir on the wings. Upfront Dimi started alongside Armando Sadiku.

Odisha FC displayed a fantastic gesture of sportsmanship by giving a guard of honour to the league shield winners before the kickoff. Gestures like this make the beautiful game even more beautiful. A Kalinga packed with vibrant and loud supporters of both the teams played host to the upcoming battle. And so the ball was rolled.

The shield winners didn't take long to break the deadlock. Dimi's corner in the third minute of the match met the head of an unmarked Manvir Singh. Manvir, who has had one of the best seasons of his career made no mistake as he headed the ball in from five yards out. The away fans' joy meant no bounds as the celebrated along with the players. Bagan, who have looked vulnerable at times during this season showed no such signs early on. 1-0 to the visitors. 

But Odisha were in no mood to let go of their home record. Why, even the mighty CCM of Australia failed to beat them at the Kalinga. And they showed why. Odisha piled up an series of attacks, making runs and putting in the balls in the box. Amey Ranawade came the closest to equalize but his effort was cleared by the defence. Odisha won a series of corners in a row, piling up the pressure on Bagan even more. And soon they earned their reward.

An Ahmed Jahouh corner was missed by everyone, including Vishal, and it was met by the feet of an on rushing Delgado. The Odisha captain made no mistake as he scored from close range. The match was level again, much to the joy and jubilation of the home support. Just 10 minutes in, the match surely looked delicious, especially for the neutral.

Mohun Bagan didn't budge either, as Dimi and co. kept up the with a barrage of shots. Anirudh Thapa looked like a revelation himself. He looked free and more threatening in a slightly more attacking role. But just when Bagan were growing into the game, calamity struck. And who else to hurt you more than the one you loved once.

Roy Krishna was the apple of the eye for many in Kolkata during his stint here. Sure, the team's name was the burning issue during that time which led to widespread fan protests. But that didn't stop the football loving people from adoring this superstar from Fiji. His pace, his power more that made up for his short stature. And today was no different. 

A hopeless long ball upfront was cushioned by Roy. The ball should have been won by Yuste, but Roy's determination was more. Not only he won the header, he won the race to the ball and poked it past a helpless Vishal Kaith. Bagan's former love had scored against them. Roy didn't celebrate, for he considers this team as his own. But the Odisha fans did. And why not? They turned a one goal deficit against arguably the best team in India. Credit where it's due.

Dimi made waste of a great chance just two minutes later. Bagan's current messiah could have cancelled out the former one's heroics, if only he had placed his shot a bit better. With form Dimi is in, missing such a chance should not be acceptable. 

Bagan continued with their attacks but nothing bore fruit. The first half came to an end after 5 minutes of added time. 

Bagan had two different free kick takers in the second half. The one from Liston was underwhelming to say the very least. But Dimi atleast hit the target. The shot was punched back into the path of Anwar Ali, but the young defender missed an almost open goal.

The second half was marked by two red card incidents. Armando Sadiku had a meltdown moment as he made a rash challenge from behind and was subsequently given the marching orders for a second yellow card. Delgado, the captain of the opposition was also sent off for a blatant hand ball. The game became a 10 vs 10 sparring session in the final few minutes. Bagan launched attack after attack in search of the equalizer, but Odisha didn't budge. In absence of their captain, Odisha employed every player in their own half to preserve this crucial lead, and so they did.

Bagan will feel hard done especially considering the chances we missed. Fans can only hope for a better showing in the second leg at the VYBK. A pack VYBK can elevate this team's performance up by several times. Odisha have been Bagan's bogey team this year, beating and frustrating the Mariners on several occasions.

The time for revenge is not. Bagan has the chance to go for the treble. The players are capable of more and the fans know it. Come second leg, Bagan will be without Armando Sadiku upfront. Cummings should be more than capable enough to fill that spot. 

A humongous second half of this clash if titans await. Will Bagan advance to their second final in a row, or will Lobera weave his magic again? 

All roads, all answers, will be given at the VYBK. Until next time, Joy Mohun Bagan!!

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