I League 2018-19: Sandro’s double helps Chennai City FC continue its winning run

Sandro Rodriguez's brace steered I-League table-topper Chennai City FC to a 2-1 win over Aizawl FC on Friday.

Chennai City FC's Alexander Jesuraj Romario in action against Aizawl FC in the I-League on Friday.   -  I-League

Sandro Rodriguez fired two spectacular goals to help Chennai City FC extend its winning run in the I-League and register a 2-1 win over Aizawl FC in a fifth round outing here at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium on Friday.

Sandro made up for the absence of injured compatriot Pedro Manzi, who has been the key name in the CCFC’s attack so far. The first goal was a trademark free-kick conversion by the Spaniard, who beautifully curled the ball beyond the reach of the Aizawl FC goalkeeper Lalawmpuia to put his side ahead in the 49th minute.

The second goal came in the 78th minute when he converted Alexander Jesuraj's pass and struck a rasping angular drive from inside the box to double Chennai City FC's lead.

Chennai City FC (above) now has 13 points from five games, seven points clear of second-placed East Bengal and third-placed Churchill Brothers.   -  Twitter @ChennaiCityFC

 

Ansumana Kromah fetched the only reply for Aizawl FC in the highly competitive second half which saw all the three goals.  

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The Spanish armada – comprising Sandro, winger Nestor Gordillo, central defender Roberto Eslava and striker Manzi – has been the decisive factor in all the battles that Chennai City has fought so far. The memorable win against East Bengal in the previous match also saw Sandro finishing free-kick from outside the box before Nestor fetched the winner from a late penalty. Prior to that Manzi had been performing the finishing work.

While the Spanish factor has been the key to Chennai City’s success so far, Aizawl FC's African stars have been a let-down.

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The host started the opening half on an aggressive note, seeing two clear chances coming its way in the first two minutes. Ivory Coast striker Leonce Dodoz fluffed the first chance by sending his attempt wide off an open goal while Kromah was the culprit next as he shot over from close.

Lalrinfela nearly gave Aizawl the lead in the 19th minute but his fantastic free-kick struck the crossbar.

“They (Chennai City) won because of having good foreigners while we lost because our foreigners could not finish the chances,” Aizawl FC head coach Gift Raikhan said after the match, analysing the mistakes committed in the striking zone by his two forwards Dodoz and Kromah.

Chennai City came good in the second quarter of the action with two good chances. The visitor’s claim for a penalty on an apparent hand-ball by the Aizawl defender Hmingthan Mawia in the 23rd minute was turned down by the referee, who instead booked Ajithkumar Kamraj for protesting. This decision did not go well with the CCFC head coach Akbar Nawas, who was sent to the stands after he got involved in an argument with one of the assistant referees just after the first half. 

Chennai City FC goalkeeper Kabir T. was awarded the 'hero of the match' award for his second half heroics against Aizawl FC.   -  I-League

 

Despite playing without the presence of its coach in the technical area, Chennai City FC got itself together to secure the win in the second half. The Chennai City goalkeeper Kabir T. put up a stunning display between the posts and made at least three fine saves, couple of which were by Kromah and the other was a rasping drive from substitute Lalkhawpuimawia.

Kabir, later adjudged the ‘hero of the match’ for his second half heroics, definitely showed with his performance the motivation to win instilled by Nawas.