Last season’s bottom side Hyderabad got off to a winning start in this campaign of the ISL, beating Odisha by a single goal at the GMC Stadium in Bambolim. It was a game they dominated almost from the first minute and the score line does not do justice to their dominance.
It was a disappointing result for Odisha, who were second-best for much of the afternoon, and gave Subrata Pal in the Hyderabad goal little to do on his debut.
Hyderabad were in the ascendancy right from the off and created the first chance when the lively Lluis Sastre crossed for Aridane Santana, but he could not direct his header on target. The same pair then combined again, but the result was the same, with Santa unable to direct the ball inside the post.
However, they got their reward in the 35th minute when the ball struck Steven Taylor on the arm in his own penalty box, and the referee pointed to the spot. Santana took it and made no mistake, drilling it down the middle of the goal, with the keeper diving to his right.
On the stroke of half-time, Hyderabad came close to doubling their lead, but Arshdeep Singh made a fine save to keep out an effort from Halicharan Narzary.
Odisha had been anonymous as an attacking threat in the first half, but almost equalised after the restart, with Akash Mishra making a fine interception to keep out Nandakumar Singh, who was almost clean through on goal.
Hyderabad did have the ball in the net for a second time, but João Victor had strayed offside and his effort was ruled out. They again went close when Liston Colaco produced a curling shot after a fine run had beaten several defenders, but again his shot went just wide.
Colaco and Sastre continued to ask questions of the Odisha defenders, but the game became scrappy, as the yellow cards mounted-up.
In the end though Hyderabad were very good value for the win and have the added satisfaction of having achieved their first-ever clean sheet in the ISL, a marked improvement for the side which had the worst defensive record in the league last season.