Redeem Tlang gave the home side the lead in the 2nd minute but Xisco Hernandez equalised for Odisha (71'). Asamoah Gyan netted his debut ISL goal in the 84th minute to seal full points for the Highlanders.
NorthEast United FC kicked-off their season at home in tremendous fashion, with Redeem Tlang setting off fireworks in the second minute. Panagiotis Triadis set the youngster in space on the right side, taking advantage of Odisha’s unorganised back-four. Tlang then slotted it past Arshdeep Singh, despite the custodian getting a touch before the ball hit the back of the net.
Martin Chaves, who was key in the build-up to the goal, was lively in the moments that followed and put the pressure on the Odisha defence that looked shaky after conceding the early goal.
At the other end, Odisha resorted to crosses to create chances but did not test the NorthEast defence in the opening minutes. Their first big chance arrived in the 33rd minute when Jerry Mawihmingthanga tested Subhasish Chowdhary from the edge of the box.
Seconds later, Carlos Delgado had his header tipped away by the NorthEast custodian, who can make a fair claim to being one of their best players of the half.
The second half saw both teams step up their tempo. After sniffing the NorthEast goal for over 25 minutes, Odisha finally pulled one back through Xisco Hernandez. Diawandou Diagné danced on the right flank, before launching a perfect low-cross to the centre of the box. Xisco was at the right time at the right place to score the equaliser with a deft touch to get the better of Subhasish for the first time on the night.
While it looked like the game was heading for a draw, Ghanian legend Gyan stamped his authority on the fixture by soaring high to head home Lalthathanga Khawlhring's delivery from the corner. Odisha were made to pay for poor defending that saw the 33-year-old completely unmarked at the centre of the box.
Odisha could not respond to the late goal and the hosts deservedly walked away with all three points.