Super Cup: Chennaiyin FC dominates ATK 2-0 to reach final

Anirudh Thapa' star continued to rise with another telling contribution for Chennaiyin FC by scoring and assisting a goal to overcome a determined ATK defence.

Chennaiyin FC celebrates Anirudh scored the second goal against ATK in the Super Cup semifinals.   -  AIFF Media

Chennaiyin FC dominated from start to finish in a convincing win over 2-0 over ATK in the semifinals of the Super Cup here at the Kalinga Stadium on Wednesday.

Anirudh Thapa's star continued to rise with another telling contribution for Chennaiyin by scoring and assisting a goal to overcome a determined ATK defence and book its place in the final. 

Chennaiyin FC 2-0 ATK: As it Happened

To deal with ATK’s threat on the break, Chennaiyin manager John Gregory started with two holding midfielders, Chris Herd and Dhanpal Ganesh, for the first time in the season. The ploy worked, with ATK’s outlet in attack, Manuel Lanzarote, not having any influence in the opening half and was a visibly frustrated figure. He was involved in a skirmish with Herd towards the end of the half, which saw both players booked.

For all the individual quality ATK had in attack, it was Chennaiyin which dominated possession. Raphael Augusto dropped deep to collect the ball, making Chennaiyin tick with his runs through the middle. Chennaiyin, however, much like the whole season was wasteful with its crosses. Right-back Laldinliana Ralte got the beating of Ricky Lallawamawma on many occasions but was wasteful with his crossing. Chennaiyin ended the half with 62 per cent of the ball but did not have a shot on goal to show for its efforts.

It made its superiority count in the second half and Thapa was instrumental for them. Thapa, who had switched to the left flank after 30 minutes in the first half, set up Vineeth for the opening goal in the 50th minute when it looked like nothing would come out of the move.

ATK defender John Johnson forced Thapa out wide, but the India international swerved around the defender before skipping past Pritam Kotal to hook the ball high into the six-yard area. Vineeth generated enough power with his head to put the ball past Debjit Majumder.

ATK, immediately, showed more purpose in attack which offered Chennaiyin space in the opposition half. Laldinliana burst through on the right side from his own half in the 58th minute and found Gregory Nelson outside ATK’s box. Nelson drew three defenders towards him before passing to an unmarked Thapa on the left, who struck it sweetly between the legs of Kotal and into the net.

Steve Coppell brought on Everton Santos and Hitesh Sharma to find a way back into the game but Chennaiyin’s defence remained firm. ATK tested Karanjit Singh from distance and through set pieces in the final 20 minutes, but this was a goalkeeper who had regained his confidence in the last five matches with four clean sheets. He pulled off a spectacular save to keep out a goal-bound strike from Eugeneson Lyngdoh. 

From finishing 10th at the end of the Indian Super League season with just two wins, Chennaiyin FC has found form and confidence in the last month as it marches on to face FC Goa in the final.

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