ISL: Odisha FC beat Kerala Blasters, taste first win after eight matches

Odisha FC head coach Stuart Baxter believes the win can be the catalyst which helps his team turn their season around.

By Utathya Nag ·

Odisha FC recorded an impressive 4-2 win over Kerala Blasters FC on Thursday, to finally end their winless start in the Indian Super League (ISL) this season.

It was a welcome three points for Stuart Baxter's men, who had managed just two points in their first eight matches of their ISL 2020-21 campaign.

Odisha FC fell behind early as Kerala's Garry Hooper scored the first goal in the seventh minute, but Vinit Rai and Co. turned the tables. An own goal by Jeakson Singh in the 22nd minute restored parity before Steven Taylor put Odisha ahead just before half-time.

Odisha's Brazilian recruit Diego Mauricio then grabbed a quickfire second-half brace to cement the win. Hooper pulled a goal back for Kerala Blasters in the 79th minute but it came a little too late to inspire a dramatic comeback for Kibu Vicuna's men.

“Very pleased with the players. Giving away a goal and then coming back totally dominating in the next 75 minutes of the game, it was an awesome performance,” Odisha FC head coach Stuart Baxter said after the match. 

Despite the win, Odisha FC remained rooted to the bottom of the ISL points table with five from nine matches. Kerala Blasters have one more and are in the 10th spot.

Baxter, however, believes that getting the first win can do the team a world of good. 

"We started the season with defeats. I have never seen that glum feeling. I am hoping this is a bit of a catalyst to go on a better run. The squad has been on a positive spiral. We are becoming better and better. I think it's getting better,” the British coach opined. 

Just about at the halfway mark of the league phase, Odisha FC do still need a miraculous run in the second half to qualify for the ISL playoffs.

“The minimum for me is that every player gives everything he has got in every situation. And the end of the season I want to see if they end in fourth place or 10th place or whatever,” Baxter concluded. 

Odisha FC play two-time champions Chennaiyin FC next on Sunday.

Lead photo: ISL Media