Jeje strike from spot helps Chennaiyin consolidate top spot
Jamshedpur, Dec 28 (PTI) A first half of two penalties -- one converted and one missed -- decided the outcome of the Indian Super League match between Jamshedpur FC and Chennaiyin FC, with the visiting side emerging 1-0 winners in a closely- fought contest here today.
Just when it seemed the first half would be remembered for a flurry of half chances, the referee pointed to the spot when Jamshedpur's Mehtab Hossain took a tumble in his own box and handled the ball in the process.
Jeje Lalpekhlua sent Subrata Pal the other way with a smart penalty for his fourth goal of the season, and it turned out to be the difference between the two teams.
But the drama was hardly over in the first session when the referee pointed to the dreaded spot once again, this time at the other end.
Chennaiyin manager John Gregory was fuming at the touchline over the decision of the referee against his side and was sent into the stands for his reaction, but Kervens Belfort's effort was saved brilliantly by Karanjit Singh to the dismay of the home team supporters.
It was the closest that the home side came to equalising because the second half was a cagey affair with a lot of mistakes from attackers of both sides in the final third.
The best moment came from Jeje but the Chennaiyin striker blasted over the bar in the dying seconds from a Germanpreet Singh pass.
Apart from the penalty, Jamshedpur's defence held firm in the first half but there was more action for their attackers.
It all started with Mehtab Hossain finding space down the right, but the shot from Belfort was well saved by Karanjit.
Youngster Jerry Mawhmingthanga had the second chance of the match minutes later, but his effort was just wide, this time the cross had come from Souvik Chakrabarti as Jamshedpur fired a few warning shots.
An interesting strategy throughout the game was that of holding a very high line whenever Chennaiyin would get a deep set-piece. Jamshedpur's aerial prowess meant they got away with it on most occasions, but the tactic from Steve Coppell was pretty clear.
Jerry Mawhmingthanga was in the mix again, this time his pass almost found Souvik but the other Jerry on the pitch -- Lalrinzuala -- made a well-timed tackle to thwart the home side going ahead.
It was not as if Chennaiyin did not have their chances. There was a soft penalty shout and a few good crosses, but the decision making in the final third was not as sharp as expected.
Chennaiyin's win meant that they are four points clear on top of the table, but have played two games more than second- placed FC Goa. It also means they are unbeaten in three games now.
As for Jamshedpur, their solid defence was finally broken -- not from open play -- but from a needless penalty. They still have the enviable record of conceding just two goals in seven matches