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ISL 2017: Chennaiyin coach Gregory explains how he stopped Bengaluru in derby win

Rohith Nair
FEATURED COLUMNIST
News
551   //    17 Dec 2017, 23:07 IST

John Gregory Bengaluru FC vs Chennaiyin ISL 2017
Chennaiyin FC coach John Gregory (Image: ISL)

Bengaluru FC were handed their first home loss of the ISL when Chennaiyin came away from the Kanteerava Stadium with all three points thanks to an 88th-minute winner on Sunday evening. And coach John Gregory was proud of his team for the way they handled the home side's famous attack.

Jeje Lalpekhlua had opened the scoring as early as the fifth minute before Sunil Chhetri equalised with five minutes to go. However, Dhanpal Ganesh's late header saw the visitors win and move to the top alongside FC Goa and Bengaluru with 12 points each.

"We came here for all three points - we came here to win," the English coach said. "We got off to a good start and scoring first certainly helped. The game was exactly how I expected it to be.

"BFC are not only a fantastic football team but they're also a fantastic football club. They've made a huge impression on the ISL this season. They play fantastic football; they play how I believe it should be played - they play from the back, they try and build it up by playing to feet all over the pitch.

"We managed to keep them relatively quiet until the last six to seven minutes. We defended very well; everybody worked exceptionally hard for us and we got the winning goal at a very crucial time."

Gameplan was to keep Miku and Chhetri quiet: Gregory

When asked about what he had done to restrict Bengaluru to very few chances on goal, he praised his team's defensive organisation.

"We try and teach our players good habits," he explained. "A lot of it is mental - they need to be mentally strong, be focused and they need to concentrate. If they concentrate on their particular job that they're given to do in a game then we make it hard for the opposition.

"We made it hard for Bengaluru to play their normal attacking game that they usually play. Defensively we were very strong across the back-four. Ganesh and Bikramjit [Singh] in central midfield do a great job for us defensively."

Dhanpal Ganesh goal Bengaluru Chennaiyin ISL 2017
Gregory praised Dhanpal Ganesh for his all-round contribution (Image: ISL)

"And, of course, [Francisco] Fernandes on one side and young Jude [Nworuh] on the other side - they both did good jobs defensively. We tried to make it as hard for the opposition as possible and keep them away from goal."

Also read: Bengaluru weren't clinical enough against Chennaiyin, says Sunil Chhetri

Gregory also touched upon how it was important to keep the likes of Miku and Chhetri quiet - even though Chhetri did manage to score an equaliser late in the game.

"Miku needs just three shots a game and he can score two goals," he said. "He's a real dangerous character. We just tried to keep him out of the penalty box as much as we could.

Gregory also explained how Inigo Calderon kept a leash on Chhetri to prevent him from doing too much damage in the game.

"[Chhetri] is a danger for the oppositoin. He's showd this season how he's helped to win matches and that's why they were top of the league."

Also read: Chennaiyin captain Sereno blames Bengaluru's Chhetri for post-match scuffle

"Inigo is a very experienced player and he has been outstanding this season. You don't need to teach him too much. You ask him to do something and he know what to do with his experience. He kept an eye on Chhetri.

"He got away from him once five minutes from the end. And when you leave him alone in a one-v-one situation like that it's normally going to end up in the bac of your net.

"I thought the game was heading for a 1-0, to be fair. Once they got back into it, they had five minutes to play. Anything can happen in that situation but we got that one chance and managed to finish it off."

Win in Bengaluru was for the fans: Gregory

Gregory also praised the away fans who had turned up in numbers and were able to compete with the West Block Blues when it came to making themselves heard. And he was happy to give them a win after losing to Mumbai City a week ago.

"It's a derby game as well. You saw our fans here tonight - a lot of people have made their way here from Chennai to support us. We had a bad result last week in Mumbai and this result tonight was for our travelling fans who have come all the way here to support us."

Chennaiyin fans
Chennaiyin players thank the travelling fans in Bengaluru (Image: ISL)

I didn't see the scuffle: Gregory

The post-match scuffle between the two sides soured the end of an end-to-end encounter but the English coach was behind the dugout celebrating with the away fans and claimed he did not see what happened on the pitch.

Also read: Chennaiyin need to learn to respect opponents, says Bengaluru coach Roca

However, he was made aware of the incident and put it down to the euphoria and frustration that follows a derby game.

"It's a derby game - everyone's getting upset, everyone's getting angry. Everyone was over-celebrating sometimes. This is what happens when you get into a game that means so much to everybody. But all-in-all, we're very happy to go home with three points."

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Rohith Nair
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