Chennaiyin FC came up trumps against Jamshedpur FC by a 2-1 margin in the fifth match of the 2020-21 Indian Super League Season at the Tilak Maidan in Goa. In what was an entertaining game with loads of chances especially for Chennaiyin, two goals in the first half were enough for the two-time ISL Champions to start the season with a victory.
The 2019-20 ISL runners-up Chennaiyin FC got away to a blazing start as their ‘boy wonder’ Anirudh Thapa opened the scoring with a delightful strike at the near post. Guinea Bissau forward Esmael Goncalves (Isma) came up with a scrappy cross but the ball made its way to Thapa who had made a late run into the box.
The game then opened up and became end to end with Chennaiyin FC being the dominant side. Jamshedpur, however, got a glorious opportunity to equalize in the 7th minute. Isaac Vanmalsawma floated in a superb ball from a free-kick but centre-back Peter Hartley headed it wide even as the Chennaiyin FC defenders gave him a lot of space in the box. A few minutes later, Isma could have quickly got himself on the scoresheet but he fluffed his shot badly.
The Chennaiyin FC skipper Rafael Crivellaro also grew into the game as he managed to carve open Jamshedpur’s shaky back-line on a number of occasions. One such occasion came in the 20th minute when Crivellaro realeased Lallianzuala Chhangte into space but the winger’s shot was saved by TP Rehenesh.
However, the Marina Machans managed to double the lead soon enough when Isaac pushed down Chhangte in the box to gift a penalty. The chance was superbly taken by Isma as he found the bottom right corner with precision.
Jamshedpur’s misery worsened as Peter Hartley had to be subbed off after suffering a knee injury. Out of the blue, the Red Miners got a lifeline as the 2019-20 ISL golden boot winner Nerijus Valskis headed in an inviting cross from Jackichand Singh. The game slowed down a bit but just before the half-time whistle, substitute Narendar Gahlot came up with a crucial interception to prevent Crivellaro from scoring a third goal for his side.
Once the second-half began, Jakub Sylvestr received a superb cross from Chhangte but the striker powered his shot way over the crossbar. Syvestr was substituted off but not before being involved in a controversial penalty appeal. Jamshedpur’s Alex Lima clearly made contact with Sylvestr but the referee Santhosh Kumar waved off a penalty appeal from Chennaiyin FC.
Soon enough, Jamshedpur got two superb chances to equalize but they failed to do so on both occasions. First, Stephen Eze directed his header poorly from an Aitor Monroy free-kick while Jackichand Singh found Enes Sipovic with a feeble shot after Vishal Kaith messed up a routine collection. Eight minutes after coming onto the pitch, young forward Rahim Ali came up with a mazy run before finding Chhangte but the Mizo winger’s shot was saved once again by TP Rehenesh.
Thereafter, it was all Chennaiyin FC for the last twenty minutes but they failed to expand their lead. Chhangte, in particular, was guilty of missing chances as he passed the ball to Rahim Ali while being in shooting range in the 86th minute.
In fact, both Rahim Ali and Chhangte got themselves into goal-scoring positions in that same move. A few minutes later, Chhangte lost the ball while trying to dribble instead of passing the ball to team-mates in a lot of space on the right flank. These missed chances didn’t come back to cost Chennaiyin FC as they saw off the final minutes with a lot of confidence.
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Arguably the best Indian mid-fielder at this moment, Anirudh Thapa became the first Indian goal-scorer this season after just 52 seconds. After scoring the goal, Thapa worked his socks off and helped the Chennaiyin FC defense while Jamshedpur had their few attacking moments in the game.
Overall, Thapa came up with two clearances, interceptions and tackles. He will hope that this is just the start of a great season for both him and Chennaiyin FC.Published 25 Nov 2020, 00:15 IST