Martin Perez Guedes could have been Odisha's hero in the 45th minute, just before the half-time whistle, in Wednesday's Indian Super League (ISL) fixture in Bengaluru. Bengaluru FC's defence, which has been brilliant overall this season, left the Argentinian midfielder unmarked at the far post for a Xisco Hernandez corner-kick.
Guedes hit the woodwork from only a few yards out and it was a turning point in the game. The score was 2-0 in favour of the hosts and Josep Gombau had lost key players Aridane Santana and Marcos Tebar to unfortunate injuries.
Bengaluru had scored two goals in two minutes midway through the first half and after the forced double change and Guedes' big miss, Odisha never really kicked on. At the hour-mark, Guedes turnt villain with a foul inside the box on Erik Paartalu, who was exceptional and influential all game. Sunil Chhetri scored his ninth goal of the season for the Blues with a confident penalty that ended the contest.
Without Santana and Tebar, the young Indian contingent struggled to test the best defence in the league which registered its eighth clean sheet of the season. At the other end, it was a set-piece training stint for Carles Cuadrat's team and Odisha were unlocked with ease.
All three Bengaluru goals were from dead-ball scenarios and Erik Paartalu had a big role to play in each of those.
The Australian midfielder has been a vital part of the team since his return from injury and his influence and command in midfield were once again on display. Paartalu flicked on Dimas' corner for Deshorn Brown to score his first goal for the club on his first start. Brown led the line really well and is sure to keep Onwu on the bench for the rest of the season if he continues to perform the way he did against Odisha.
In the 25th minute, Udanta received Dimas' corner delivery at his feet and found Paartalu with a cross. The midfielder's powerful strike took a deflection off Santana and fell to Bheke who gleefully poked the ball into the net. It was Paartalu who was fouled inside the box for the 61st-minute penalty.
Bengaluru once again used their physicality and set-piece brilliance to completely outfox Odisha and beat their gameplan. The visitors had no answer to the questions posed and were deservedly on the losing side.