ISL: Chennaiyin pulls off a stunner against BFC


Form does indeed go out of the window in a derby game. Chennaiyin, reeling at the bottom of the points table and on a five-match losing streak, stunned table-topper Bengaluru FC 2-1 in an Indian Super League match here at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Saturday.
Jeje Lalpekhlua, making his first start in over two months, provided the early breakthrough for Chennaiyin before Gregory Nelson reaffirmed the home side’s dominance towards the end of the first half by scoring the second, both players scoring their first goals of the season. The visiting side, which had made five changes to the starting line-up from its last game, had controlled the proceedings until the half-hour mark when an error in midfield cost the side dear. Raphael Augusto nicked the ball of Harmonjot Khabra near the halfway line and made a surging run and squared the ball to C. K. Vineeth in space. Vineeth found Jeje through a deflection off Nishu Kumar’s legs and the striker blasted the ball through Germanpreet Singh’s fingertips to put Chennaiyin ahead.
The goal lifted the side and the supporters, who had seen their team get a solitary point at home this season. Jeje’s inclusion in the striker’s role meant C. K. Vineeth had to be moved to the right wing. Just before the break, Anirudh Thapa found him with a racking diagonal pass on the right which he laid it on for Zohmingliana Ralte, who hung a cross on the face of Bengaluru’s goal. Chennaiyin’s no. 7 Nelson out-jumped Rino Anto to head the ball low to the right of a sprawling Germanpreet. BFC went into the break 2-0 down for the second successive game. At the restart, the Blues, yet again, dominated possession but their passing was quicker this time. Chennaiyin was contempt playing the waiting game by sitting deep and hitting the visitor on the break. However, Francisco Hernandez’s inswinging cross from the right in the 57th minute left Chennaiyin’s defence flat-footed. Sunil Chhetri, who had a subdued game on the left wing until that point, ghosted into the box unmarked to apply a diving header past Karanjit to halve the deficit.
But the comeback was never really on after that goal. Center back Eli Sabia marshalled Chennaiyin’s defence well to snuff out Bengaluru’s attacking threat for the remainder of the game. The final whistle was greeted with rapturous noise from the home crowd after a hard-fought first victory of the campaign.


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