AFC Cup: Chennaiyin FC 2-0 Manang Marshyangdi Club - 5 Talking Points
Chennaiyin FC defeated Manang Marshyangdi Club of Nepal 2-0 on Wednesday in their second group game in Group G of the AFC Cup at the The Arena Stadium in Ahmedabad. In their first game two weeks ago Chennaiyin had drawn 0-0 against fellow Indian side Minerva Punjab. The three points from today's win took them to four points, tied with Abahani Dhaka, but ahead on goal difference.
Playing their second game in the space of five days after their exertions in the final of the Super Cup last Saturday, Chennaiyin were in the midst of a hectic schedule and needed a win to push home the advantage of getting to play all three of their home games in a row up front.
Playing with a higher tempo Chennaiyin probed early and created plenty of openings in the first half. However the goal proved elusive.
But the second half provided the dividends for their efforts as a two-goal burst within the first 10 minutes of the half did the trick for John Gregory's men.
First Chris Herd, driving from midfield, took an ambitious-looking shot from outside the box. The ball took a slight deflection from a Manang player and ended up looping over their keeper and into goal.
1-0 in the 51st minute and just two minutes later skipper Mailson Alves headed home powerfully from a corner to double the lead for Chennaiyin.
Chennaiyin then saw out the game to ensure that they got their first win of the competition. They now get 12 days off before their next group game against Abahani Dhaka.
Here were the main talking points from the game:
#1 Gregory rings the changes
With Chennaiyin playing their fifth game in a span of 14 days, coach John Gregory made a few changes to his regular starting eleven.
Gregory had hinted at a 'more offensive' setup ahead of the game considering the need for a win. CK Vineeth was dropped to the bench and replaced by Mohammed Rafi in the eleven. Brazilian midfielder Raphael Augusto was left out of the matchday squad altogether, something Gregory explained had to do with workload management and the team attempting to 'look after him a bit'.
Anirudh Thapa got his first start in the AFC Cup and Germanpreet Singh also started to make up the midfield three with Aussie Herd.
The changes, almost to a man, all had an impact on the game.