Sports

Chennaiyin beat BFC 2-1 in ISL

Chennaiyin beat BFC 2-1 in ISL
Jeje Lalpekhlua celebrates after scoring a goal during the ISL match against Bengaluru FC at Marina Arena, Chennai on Saturday.
CHENNAI, FEB 9 (AGENCIES) | Publish Date: 2/9/2019 12:38:38 PM IST

League leaders Bengaluru were handed a jolt as they succumbed to a 1-2 defeat against defending champions Chennaiyin in the Indian Super League (ISL) at the Marina Arena/Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai on Saturday.

Jeje Lalpekhlua (32’) scored an ISL goal after 330 days and Gregory Nelson (42’) doubled the Super Machan’s lead in the first half. Sunil Chhetri (57’) halved the deficit in the second half. 

Jeje captained Chennaiyin in only his seventh start of the season and Chris Herd made his full debut. Carles Cuadrat opted for five changes with the likes of Albert Serran, Dimas Delgado and Udanta Singh were all rested from the matchday squad. Miku was reunited with Sunil Chhetri up top while new signing Luisma Villa was seen on Indian shores for the very first time.

Luisma and Miku combined well in the first half hour as the Venezuelan had two sniffs on goal, both of which he missed. Zotea Ralte was forced out of the game early after former teammate Miku stamped on his ankle. That pushed Chris Herd into the defence and Anirudh Thapa’s introduction helped the hosts going forward. Two minutes after the half-hour mark, Harmanjot Khabra failed to track Raphael Augusto’s run on the counter and laid the ball for CK Vineeth on the edge of the box. The on-loan striker from Kerala Blasters squared the ball, one which Nishu Kumar failed to intercept, and an opportune Jeje slammed the ball home after it took a deflection off Gurpreet’s gloves and the inside of the crossbar.

Thereafter, Chennaiyin had a spring in their step in all their forays into the Bengaluru final third and that paid off in style. Vineeth fed an overlapping Laldinliana Renthlei who sent in a pinpoint cross towards the far side. Nelson rose over an unassuming Rino Anto and headed home into the bottom corner.

Luisma’s ISL debut was cut short as Cuadrat sent in Kean Lewis to shuffle things up after the break. Bengaluru showed a hint of urgency and a goal did come through Sunil Chhetri, who equalled Iain Hume’s goals tally of 28 in the ISL, just one behind all-time top-scorer Ferran Corominas.

It was a sustained bit of pressure from the visitors that yielded a goal. Khabra passed to Xisco who played a cross into space. Chhetri was played onside by Herd and he timed his run to perfection diving and headed the ball home past a hapless Karanjit Singh.

Chennaiyin committed men back to protect their lead for the rest of their game, absorbing the pressure from Miku and Chhetri. However, the only attempt on goal remained a 30-yarded from Khabra that sailed above the bar.

Cuadrat throwed in youngsters Edmund Lalrindika and Ajay Chhetri towards the fag end of the game, the latter making his senior professional debut. However, both got booked, mirroring their side’s frustration as they dropped points in consecutive games.

With three rounds remaining, bottom-placed Chennaiyin FC got upto eight points, while Bengaluru remained on 31 points, failing to open up a seven-point lead at the top of the table.

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