AFC Cup: Chennaiyin goes top of the group after beating Manang Marshyangdi

The win propelled Chennaiyin to the top of Group E in the AFC Cup with four points from two games after Minerva Punjab was held to a draw against Abahani Dhaka.

Chennaiyin FC defender Mailson Alves celebrates after scoring his side's second goal against Manang Marshyangdi in the AFC Cup.   -  Twitter

Two goals in as many minutes did the trick for Chennaiyin FC as it cruised to a comfortable 2-0 win over Manang Marshyangdi in its AFC Cup group stage clash here at The Arena by TransStadia on Wednesday.

Chris Herd's first goal for the side and a towering Mailson Alves header earned Chennaiyin the win and propelled the side to the top of Group E with four points from two games. Abahani Dhaka – also on four points – sits in the second spot after it drew 2-2 with Minerva Punjab earlier in the day.

READ | Minerva held by Abahani Dhaka, stays third in group

The home side was firmly in control of the opening half and it was one-way traffic as Chennaiyin pressed hard and high, offering Manang Marshyangdi little to no room. With over 70 percent of possession, John Gregory's men found cracks in the opposition defence, floated the crosses into the box, but failed to convert. The opposition was forced to merely clear the ball and managed to enter the Chennaiyin box only twice, failing to trouble the goalkeeper on either occasion.

Mohammed Rafi had a couple of fine chances to open the scoring, but his hasty first-time attempts let him down. After an agonising opening 45, Rafi -- making his first start of the season -- made amends in the second half as he set up Herd for the first goal.

He played a lovely one-two with Herd and the Australian's powerful drive took a heavy deflection and sailed into the goal in the 51st minute. The home team soon found the back of the net again as Mailson Alves soared high to nod in Anirudh Thapa's corner less than two minutes later.

The double blow sealed the fate of the game and it was smooth sailing here on for Chennaiyin as Manang Marshyangdi showed little signs of making a comeback. Substitute Abhishek Rijal came closest to scoring for the Nepalese club when he struck a stunning overhead kick with three minutes left on the clock, but Karanjit Singh made a fine reflex save to deny him.

That was the last save he had to make as Chennaiyin FC claimed its first AFC Cup win, and registered a sixth clean sheet in eight matches.

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