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Kerala Blasters 3-6 Chennaiyin FC: 3 Reasons why the hosts lost | ISL 2019-20

EXPERT COLUMNIST
Feature
Modified 01 Feb 2020, 21:57 IST

Chennaiyin emerged unscathed from a manic encounter
Chennaiyin emerged unscathed from a manic encounter

Chennaiyin FC got the better of Kerala Blasters in a manic encounter at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi as the former moved ahead of Odisha FC in the ISL league standings.

The game began steadily with both sides pushing and probing for an opening. However, the contest sparked into life when TP Rehenesh’s miserable mistake enabled Rafael Crivellaro to bulge the net.

Minutes later, Nerijus Valskis doubled the visitors’ tally while Crivellaro popped up with his second on the verge of half-time to help establish a three-goal cushion at the break.

After the restart, Kerala reduced the arrears slightly when Bartholomew Ogbeche scored three minutes into the second period. However, Chennaiyin reclaimed their three-goal advantage 11 minutes later when Lallianzuala Chhangte capitalized on another defensive lapse.

Ogbeche then struck twice between the 65th and 76th minute to send a few shivers down the visitors’ spines. However, Chhangte bagged his second of the evening in the 80th minute, thereby easing Chennaiyin’s nerves a touch.

In stoppage time, Valskis added further gloss to the score-line as he finished at the near post past Rehenesh to ensure that the Marina Machans walked away with three points after a crazy game.

Here is a look at the three reasons why Kerala lost.


#3 Chennaiyin’s brisk three-goal salvo knocks the wind out of Kerala’s sails

Valskis bagged his customary goal in the first half
Valskis bagged his customary goal in the first half

Kerala entered the game against Chennaiyin FC having accumulated 14 points in as many matches. Thus, the encounter against the Marina Machans represented a must-win clash, considering the Blasters’ predicament in the ISL table.

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The hosts began the game decently and kept the away side at bay for the majority of the first half, although they didn’t particularly set the world ablaze themselves. Yet, they maintained a tidy performance, thereby allowing the Manjappada to dream of another home triumph.

However, it unravelled rather spectacularly for the Blasters as they conceded thrice in the dying stages of the opening period.

In the 39th minute, Rehenesh indulged in a needless bit of intricate play when he decided to thread the ball through the needle, despite the presence of a couple of Chennaiyin forwards. Unsurprisingly, the above didn’t end well as Crivellaro made the net ripple.

Minutes later, the aforementioned Brazilian and Valskis combined superbly in the final third, meaning that the latter was accorded a 1v1 situation with the goal-keeper. The Lithuanian kept his nerve and thumped the ball into the back of the net.

And, just as the Blasters were recovering from that double blow, they conceded again on the stroke of half-time when the visitors beat the offside trap and tripled their advantage.

Though the home side managed to pull three goals back after the break, courtesy Ogbeche, the peak proved to be too steep to scale, in light of the advantage the visitors had established early in the tussle.


#2 Kerala shoot themselves in the foot not once, not twice but thrice

Chennaiyin
Chennaiyin's front three capitalised on Kerala's lapse defending

Over the course of the 2019-20 season, Eelco Schattorie has indulged in his fair share of whining. While he has constantly lamented the incessant nature of injuries his side has suffered, he has also found time to complain about the referees and a bit about his players as well.

And, though the Dutchman wasn’t on the sidelines against Chennaiyin, courtesy a two-match touchline ban, one could witness Schattorie fuming from the stands. After all, his troops had managed to shoot themselves in the foot thrice, rather remarkably.

The first goal came about when Rehenesh decided that it was smart to morph into the play-maker the Blasters have been crying out for. Unfortunately for him though, the most obvious passing avenue was blocked by Crivellaro and Valskis. Yet, he proceeded and allowed the former to cut out his pass and subsequently, place the ball into the bottom corner.

The third goal, meanwhile, embodied the shoddiness that has dogged their side for a major chunk of their campaign. After another one of their attempts to play the offside line had gone woefully wrong, the Blasters’ defenders refused to track Crivellaro, who had begun his run from inside his own half when Anirudh Thapa released his pass.

The hosts’ rear-guard, in rather school-boy fashion, expected the flag to be raised, despite Valskis not actively making an attempt to play the ball. Inevitably, the Brazilian got on the end of the through-ball and finished adeptly past the keeper.

And, they capped off a wretched defensive display in the 59th minute when Raju Gaikwad handed the visitors another goal on a platter.

After tracking Chhangte’s run diligently, the defender tried to square the ball to his goalkeeper, despite the presence of Valskis. The striker intercepted the pass and flicked it into his winger’s path. The Indian did the rest and curled the ball beyond Rehenesh’s reach.

Towards the final quarter of the game, the Blasters managed to gather a head of steam, meaning that the away side were holding on, at times. Yet, the way they gifted presents ultimately left Schattorie scratching his head.


#1 Kerala get picked off too easily

Crivellaro tore Kerala to shreds in transitional situations
Crivellaro tore Kerala to shreds in transitional situations

For a majority of the season, Kerala have been labelled as a side that often fails to blend the requisite substance with style. In fact, apart from the match against Hyderabad FC, where they struck five times, they’d only managed to make the net bulge on 15 occasions in 13 matches.

And, that particular tendency was laid bare for everyone to see in the first half against Chennaiyin FC. Throughout the opening 45 minutes, the Blasters’ build-up play looked sluggish and they seemed devoid of ideas as they pinged the ball from side to side without purpose.

They tried using the strength of Messi Bouli and Ogbeche in attack, although that too came unstuck against Eli Sabia and Lucian Goian. Additionally, they severely lacked a creative midfielder capable of prizing open a defence that wasn’t too keen on making errors in the first half.

More puzzlingly though, in pursuit of the elusive goal, the Blasters left themselves alarmingly open at the back. On numerous occasions, the Marina Machans scythed through the hosts’ midfield and defence on the counter-attack.

Crivellaro, in particular, thrived in such circumstances as he erupted into life whenever the ball was turned over. The visitors’ second, fifth and sixth goal arrived via that avenue when the home side completely switched off and allowed their counterparts to maraud through.

While the Blasters eventually breached the Chennaiyin rear-guard thrice after the break, their inability to control the game in the first half massively impeded their endeavours. 

And, rather worryingly, it all seemed too easy for the Marina Machans.

Published 01 Feb 2020, 21:57 IST
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