Chennaiyin FC (CFC) won its second match on the trot of the Indian Super League (ISL 2023-24) season after cruising past Punjab FC (PFC) with a 5-1 scoreline at the Nehru Stadium on Sunday.
Ryan Edwards, Connor Shields, Rafael Crivellaro and Vincy Barretto got on the scoresheet to secure the first home victory for the Marina Machans this season.
The match had a tepid start as both teams tried to make inroads inside the opponent’s final third without much success.
Ayush Adhikari had a chance to trouble PFC keeper Ravi Kumar in the seventh minute after Rahim Ali set him up for a shot, but Ayush flashed his effort across the face of goal and sent the ball out of play.
The Marina Arena came alive in the 24th minute when Crivellaro’s corner found an unmarked Edwards inside the box, with the defender poking the ball inside the net from close distance.
It was a quickfire second for CFC three minutes later. Crivellaro spotted Shields’ run inside the box and decided to go for an early cross, which was converted by the latter with a first-time finish on the slide.
Staikos Vergetis’s Punjab looked for a response. Madih Talal looked to split the CFC defence by lobbing the ball to Prasanth Karuthadathkuni, but CFC keeper Debjit Majumdar anticipated the danger and came off his line to collect the ball.
Owen Coyle’s Chennaiyin finished the half strongly, winning a penalty after Khaiminthang Lhungdim hacked Farukh Choudhary from behind. Crivellaro stood over the spot-kick and converted it for his team’s third.
It was a frantic start to the second-half as former CFC man Melroy Assisi lunged at Rahim Ali with a dangerous two-footed challenge, for which he saw a straight red card.
Having an extra man paid off for the home side.
Rahim Ali’s run inside the box from the left flank wasn’t tracked well by the PFC defence. Once inside the box, he did well to shield the ball and find Shields with the cutback near the six-yard box, who grabbed his brace with an easy finish in the 56th minute.
Chennaiyin continued its dominance over 10-men Punjab and got its final goal of the match in the 84th minute with a stroke of fortune.
Second-half substitute Vincy Barretto got himself in a good position inside a box and pulled the trigger after receiving a cutback from Shields. The ball took a heavy deflection off Mashoor Shareef, which completely wrong-footed PFC keeper Ravi Kumar, and he could do nothing as it trickled inside the net.
A clean sheet for CFC would have been the icing on the cake, but Krishnananda’s finessed effort from the edge of the box beat Debjit Majumdar as Punjab got a late consolation.
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