I-League: Singto’s Lajong outclasses Chennai City

Shillong Lajong produced a master-class attacking performance as it outwitted a hapless Chennai City FC 4-1 in their I-League encounter at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai on Sunday.

Vanmalsawma Chhakchhuak of Shillong Lajong Football Club (right) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against Chennai City.   -  M Vedhan

Shillong Lajong produced a master-class attacking performance as it outwitted a hapless Chennai City FC 4-1 in their I-League encounter here at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Sunday. Fabio Pena, Issac Vanmalsawma, Bipin Singh and Aser Dipanda scored for Lajong while Haroon Amiri found the back of the net for the host.

Thangboi Singto stuck to Lajong’s policy of promoting home-grown talent by fielding eight Under-22 players while Chennai coach Soundararajan kept true to his pre-match statements by handing a debut to U-22 winger Nandhakumar. The youngster replaced Prasanth Karuthadathkuni in the squad that also featured Haroon Amiri.

Chennai started the brighter of the two teams, dominating in possession, with Nandhakumar and Amiri impressing in attack. But possession of the football is only good if you can produce the end product and Chennai found that out the hard way in the 38th minute when Pena, on as a substitute for Samuel Lalmuanpuia, climbed highest to a cross from Issac Vanmalsawma, to thump a header past ‘keeper Karanjit Singh.

Coach Singto must be given the credit for the goal after he took a brave decision to take off last game’s scorer Samuel for the tall Pena, to counter Chennai’s physical dominance. The first-half ended with Lajong leading Chennai by a goal.

Chennai manager Soundararajan wasted no time in altering his attack and brought on Marcos Tank and Soosai Raj for Nandhakumar and Edwin Vanspaul in the 51st mnute. But Lajong continued to dominate the match and found its second goal in the 65th minute when Issac hit a free-kick into the far post past the outstretched arms of Karanjit.

The two goal cushion gave confidence to the young Lajong side which went all-out from thereon. Under-22 player increased the lead further in the 77th minute when he curled a shot into the top corner. Man-of-the-match Aser Dipanda Dicka then sealed the deal for Lajong when he out-foxed Chennai’s defender’s to slot in a goal, his eighth of the tournament. Amiri pulled one back in the 89th minute when he got at the end of a cross from Prasasnth but it was too little, too late for the host.

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