The Marina Machans were never really troubled by the hosts and took the lead after just 15 minutes. NEROCA centre-back David Simbo flicked a long ball under pressure from Petar Sliskovic and it fell straight to Anirudh Thapa. The Chennaiyin captain fired his team in front via a minor deflection.
The Orange Brigade, needing an outright win to stay in the competition, began the second half in better fashion. However, Thomas Brdaric's side delivered a sucker-punch to their hopes as Vafa Hakhamaneshi headed home from Thapa's free-kick in the 71st minute.
Chennaiyin, who began the tournament with a draw and a defeat, will now take on Mumbai City FC in the quarterfinals.
Here are the player ratings for both teams from this 2022 Durand Cup contest:
Poirei Soram - 6/10
Soram made a couple of decent saves and was thoroughly beaten for both goals.
Lallenmang Sitlhou - 5/10
Sitlhou didn't really inspire much confidence and went too narrow on multiple occasions. He was substituted at half-time.
Thokchom James Singh - 5/10
James Singh started the game well but suffered an injury and had to be taken off after just 16 minutes with NEROCA a goal down.
David Simbo - 5.5/10
Simbo was nervy for much of the contest under pressure from Sliskovic, with the latter's presence forcing him to make an error for Chennaiyin's first goal. He didn't fare much better against Kwame Karikari either.
Reamsochung Aimol - 5.5/10
Aimol gave the ball away on a few occasions and struggled at times against Ninthoi Meetei's pace, though he did a decent job in the second half.
Sardor Jakhonov - 6/10
Jakhonov tried hard to make things happen for NEROCA but the lack of movement in the wide areas ahead of him made his job extremely difficult.
Naorem Tondonba Singh - 6.5/10
Tondonba Singh was arguably his side's best player. He constantly looked to break down Chennaiyin's mid-block and was excellent with his passing, riding quite a few fouls along the way.
Tangva Ragui - 5.5/10
Ragui didn't have the kind of impact NEROCA needed from him in such a big game and was kept quiet by Chennaiyin before being replaced at half-time.
Surchandra Chandam Singh - 5/10
Chandam Singh's set-pieces were simply not threatening enough and he dropped deeper in the second half with no real impact.
John Chidi - 5/10
Chidi simply didn't receive enough service. He created an excellent chance for himself by winning the ball off Hakhamaneshi near the penalty area but put his shot horribly wide.
Thomyo Shimray - 6/10
Shimray was almost anonymous in the first half but improved after the break, even setting up a late chance for Jonychand Singh with an excellent dribble and cross.
Paogoumang Singson - 5/10
Singson never really looked comfortable against Sliskovic's aggressive pressing. He also gave away a foul that eventually led to Chennaiyin's second goal and compounded his side's misery by failing to mark Hakhamaneshi properly.
Jonychand Singh - 6/10
Jonychand Singh came close to scoring with a header late on, but didn't do much of note otherwise.
Likmabam Rakesh Meitei - 5/10
Meitei had no impact on the match barring a couple of unnecessary fouls.
Thiago Santos - 6/10
Santos saw one shot blocked out for a corner but couldn't do much to kickstart a listless NEROCA attack.
Debjit Majumder - 6/10
Majumder was hardly called upon as his teammates did their jobs to perfection.
Narayan Das - 6.5/10
Das looked much better at left-back against NEROCA than he did in the match against TRAU FC. He delivered a few teasing crosses and also got stuck in whenever needed.
Fallou Diagne - 7/10
Diagne looked a little jittery at the start of the game but grew in stature and commanded his defense extremely well.
Vafa Hakhamaneshi - 7/10
Hakhamaneshi's error almost saw Chennaiyin fall behind in the first half. However, he returned to his composed self afterwards and was unbeatable in the air. The centre-back also scored with a dominant header to seal the contest once and for all.
Ajith Kumar - 7/10
Kumar was excellent going forward and linked up well with both Sajal Bag and Thapa. He did his job defensively as well in another impressive performance.
Julius Duker - 7/10
Duker remains the heartbeat of this Chennaiyin team. His positional awareness and willingness to drop behind the halfway line helped Bag and Thapa charge forward at will. Duker was also very tidy with his passing and tackling.
Sajal Bag - 7/10
Bag was energetic throughout the match and offered an additional passing option wherever needed to keep NEROCA guessing. The talented youngster will arguably face his biggest test against Mumbai City but looks more than ready for the challenge.
Rahim Ali - 6.5/10
Ali didn't enjoy much joy upfront but made up for it with some vital interceptions and tackles on the defensive end. He also seems to be linking up better with Sliskovic, which is a welcome sign for Chennaiyin.
Anirudh Thapa - 8.5/10
Thapa has been symbolic of his side's rise in the tournament after a shaky start. The Chennaiyin skipper was at his maverick best against NEROCA, pressing, passing, shooting and tackling with intensity throughout the 90 minutes.
Thapa scored the goal that put his side ahead and delivered a pinpoint free-kick to assist the clincher in what was a brilliant display.
Ninthoi Meetei - 6.5/10
Meetei's pace troubled the hosts in the first half and he also delivered a few decent balls into the box. He was a little more subdued in the second half but his pressing from the front was still valuable to Chennaiyin.
Petar Sliskovic - 6.5/10
Sliskovic saw an early backheel flick saved easily and didn't have too many chances beyond that. However, he harrowed the NEROCA defense with his pressing and forced errors in key areas.
Kwame Karikari - 6.5/10
Karikari led Chennaiyin's press to rush NEROCA into long passes and also got a shot on target in addition to putting a header wide.
Akash Sangwan - 7/10
Sangwan added some more width to his side's attack and pegged back a tired NEROCA defense. He sent in a couple of excellent crosses for Karikari and Ali as well.
Jockson Dhas - 6/10
Dhas didn't have much to do with Chennaiyin in a comfortable position but added another white shirt on defense.
Edwin Sydney - N/A
Sydney joined proceedings very late and didn't have much time to contribute.