I-League: McFaul’s goal helps Shivajians hold Chennai

The home side had taken the lead through a goal by its foreign recruit Haroon Amiri in the first-half but Shivajians clawed its way back in the second half, dominating in possession and eventually finding an equaliser in the dying minutes of the match.

Haroon Fakhruddin Amiri of Chennai City FC scores against DSK Shivajians Football Club in the I-League match at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai.   -  M. Vedhan

A dramatic late goal from Shane McFaul earned DSK Shivajians a draw against Chennai City FC in their I-League match at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium here on Sunday. The home side had taken the lead through a goal by its foreign recruit Haroon Amiri in the first-half but Shivajians clawed its way back in the second half, dominating in possession and eventually finding an equaliser in the dying minutes of the match.

Surprisingly on-loan Chennaiyin FC star Jerry Lalrinzuala didn’t make it to the starting line-up and the DSK manager made seven changes to the squad that lost to Churchill Brothers 3-0. The side featured nine under-22 players. Chennai made four changes to the team that lost to Aizawl with Amiri returning as the secondary striker.

The game started with very little tempo as both sides were happy to sit back and weigh up the opposition.  But DSK looked more ominous when on the ball, particularly on the left side of the midfield where Spanish playmaker Juan Quero Barraso was pulling the strings for his side, which was playing a 4-3-3 formation. It was not surprising that the first major threat for the home side came from the same flank when Barraso engineered a pass to Ricky Lallawmamwa in the 14 minute. The latter’s cross from just outside the box was thwarted effectively by the Chennai 'keeper.

Chennai got into the game in the 31st minute when its under-22 player Nandhakumar found Amiri with a looping cross. The forward’s glancing header could only be parried by DSK 'keeper Subrata Paul but luckily for the away-side, Nirmal Chettri got to the loose ball before Tank, who was rushing in.

The attack revitalised the home squad and Charles de Souza had a big opportunity to give the team the lead when he was one-on-one with just the 'keeper to beat. But the Brazilian squandered the opportunity by hitting his shot wide.

The 'Green and Yellows’ broke the deadlock in the 42 minute and it was again the combination of Nandhakumar and Amiri which did the trick. The U-22 star found Amiri from a corner and the Afghani made no mistake in scoring. The first-half ended with Chennai leading by a goal.

The second-half proved to be a mirror image of the first — both teams going at each other but failing to trouble the scorer till the dying minutes. DSK attacked with more intent and could have equalised had Lallianzual Chhangte got on to the end of a sweeping pass from Seityasen Singh in the 65th minute. Spaniard Barraso came close soon afterwards in the 68 minute but his shot from outside-the-box missed the goal narrowly.

DSK continued to press and eventually found the equaliser in the third minute of added time after Chennai made a mess of clearing a corner. Charles’ attempted scissors cut looped off a DSK player into the box and McFaul was the first one to react, volleying the ball into the bottom left-corner.

The result leaves Chennai at the bottom of the table while DSK climbs to seventh place.

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