Bhubaneswar: A resolute Odisha FC held FC Goa to a 1-1 draw despite being a man down in the final quarter of the game in the Indian Super League here on Monday.
First-half goals from Noah Sadaoui (second minute) and Diego Mauricio (43rd) had set up an interesting second half for the two playoff contenders who will, nonetheless, likely be happy with a result that didn't damage either of their prospects.
FC Goa got off to the perfect start when Sadaoui put them ahead in the second minute. Alvaro Vazquez picked up the ball in midfield as Odisha FC were looking to push forward, and found Sadaoui with a through ball on the left side of the box.
Odisha FC's defence was spread out and tracking back as the forward found time to compose himself and drive the ball past goalkeeper Amrinder's left hand.
Odisha FC did manage to create the better chances from there on, often from the left with Isak Ralte being their outlet.
FC Goa defended in numbers for the majority of the half, offering very little for the hosts to breach, until Ralte was fouled a few yards outside the box towards the end of the half. Mauricio stepped up to take the resulting free-kick and powered a curler that was too much for Dheeraj Singh leaping to his right.
FC Goa nearly went back into the lead before the end of the half, with Sadaoui and Vazquez switching roles on this occasion. Sadaoui's cross from the left flank found the striker who had beaten his marker, but got his glancing header just wide.
The two combined yet again in what was an electric period of end-to-end football early in the second half. Sadaoui played Vazquez through, who found the back of the net before he saw the flag raised for offside.
In the next minute, Nandhakumar Sekar put in a perfectly weighted cross that found Saul Crespo's powerful header, only for Dheeraj to pounce to his right and save. From there, FC Goa managed to get the ball out to Sadaoui whose long shot was straight at the keeper.
Odisha FC were forced to slow down their game in the 67th minute, when left-back Sahil Panwar picked up a second yellow card to be ejected from the match for a challenge from behind.
With no major attacking push coming from FC Goa, the home side made a spate of substitutions in the 81st minute, shortly after Amrinder had made a crucial save as Hernan Santana's shot came through a crowded penalty box.
While these substitutions didn't translate into chances for Odisha FC, they also didn't face any substantial threats to their goal until the end of the game, barring a free-kick from Brandon Fernandes that went over and a deflected long-range shot from Santana that Amrinder kept his eyes on.
The result put Odisha FC at seventh place with a point behind sixth-ranked Bengaluru FC, while FC Goa remain in fourth.
Odisha FC stay at home to face Hyderabad FC on Friday, while FC Goa head back home to meet Mumbai City FC on Saturday.