I-League: NEROCA holds Chennai City to 3-3 draw

Pedro Manzi scored his fourth hat-trick of the season for league leader Chennai City as it drew 3-3 against title challenger NEROCA.

Published : Feb 11, 2019 18:33 IST , Imphal

Pedro Manzi (2nd from right) scored his third hat-trick of the season in Chennai City's 3-3 draw against NEROCA.
Pedro Manzi (2nd from right) scored his third hat-trick of the season in Chennai City's 3-3 draw against NEROCA.

Pedro Manzi (2nd from right) scored his third hat-trick of the season in Chennai City's 3-3 draw against NEROCA.

NEROCA FC held leader Chennai City FC to a thrilling 3-3 draw to open up the I-League title race wide open here Monday.

Chennai City fired in three goals in the first half through Pedro Manzi (34', 41', 45+1') who scored his fourth hat-trick of the season.

NEROCA FC came back strongly in the second half through Felix Chidi (52'), followed by a goal each from Chencho and Aryn Williams in the 68th and the first minute of the added time respectively.

Despite the draw, Chennai City still holds the pole position with 34 points from 16 matches, two points clear of debutant Real Kashmir FC (32 from 16 matches).

NEROCA is now placed fifth in the points table with 26 points from 17 matches.

Read: Indian women’s football team faces Nepal in Hero Gold Cup

The host dominated the initial period of the match with left-winger Singham Subhash Singh troubling the Chennai defence with repeated forays down the left flank and channel.

Two such attempts in the 17th and 20th minute found Katsumi Yusa’s head, but the Japanese was unable to finish.

In the 26th minute, Aryn Williams put Chencho through, but Bhutanese forward shot from a narrow-angle was cut out for a corner.

It was a tale of two halves at the Khuman Lampak stadium in Imphal.

However in the 34th minute, Chennai’s Spanish attacking trio--Sandro, Nestor Jesus and Pedro Manzi-- combined for a wonderfully crafted goal to give the visitor the lead.

Sandro found Nestor on the left with a long ball from inside his own half. Nestor cut in and from just outside the box noticed Pedro Manzi’s run inside the box, who beat the keeper from close range.

In the 41st minute, NEROCA’s Liberian defender Varney Kallon strayed a pass straight to Manzi with only the keeper in front of him. The striker drove forward, kept his cool and slotted home over the keeper’s right shoulder.

NEROCA went close to pulling one back when Chennai keeper Kabir kept out Malem's powerful strike. Pedro Manzi then completed his fourth hat-trick of the league in the first minute of added time. Pandiyan broke away on the right and delivered a cross towards the goal and Manzi, ever present at the right place, struck his left foot out to beat Thapa on the near post.

Also Read: Real Kashmir’s I-League contest postponed due to snow

In the 52nd minute, Chencho put Chidi through, who rounded off the keeper and scores his sixth goal of the campaign. The home team tightened the screws creating two more chances from open play.

In the 68th minute, Singham Subash's cross was headed back by Katsumi towards Chencho who drilled the ball past Kabir for his second goal in as many games.

Just when Chennai seemed to have scraped through for a win, Aryn Williams' thunderous strike in the additional time (90+ 1') from a Felix Chidi's layoff ensured a point for NEROCA.

Chennai City could lose its place at the top of the table, if East Bengal wins its next two matches.



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