Chennaiyin clinches late draw against Jamshedpur

Chennaiyin would welcome the point gained from this game and it will head into its next game against Kerala Blasters without centreback Mailson Alves.

Mohammed Rafi (right) of Chennaiyin FC celebrates after scoring the equaliser against Jamshedpur FC at an Indian Super League match at the Jawaharalal Nehru Stadium.   -  R. Ragu

Chennaiyin FC pulled off a last-gasp goal to secure a point against Jamshedpur FC in an Indian Super League match at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Sunday.

On the eve of the fixture, Jamshedpur manager Steve Coppell asked for more moments of inspiration from his players and the coach wasn't disappointed.

Match Centre

After his bicycle kick against NorthEast United, Wellington produced a stunning volley from outside the box which gave Jamshedpur the lead. It was also the 200th goal of the season.

The equaliser came from Mohammed Rafi in the 89th minute, who was brought on to salvage the match for Chennaiyin.

 

Coppell set his men up to frustrate Chennaiyin and it succeeded in doing so from the first minute of the match. The away side was quick on their feet, latching onto loose passes and second balls in the opposition half.

Chennaiyin, which likes to build attacks from the back, was checked by Jamshedpur's high pressing in the opening 30 minutes. Chennaiyin's creative midfielders Raphael Augusto and Jaime Gavilan were swarmed by Jamshedpur's midfield each time they were on the ball. And when Augusto managed to break free of their attention, he went for the spectacular; choosing to shoot from the distance, which proved wasteful.

 

January signing Wellington gave the lead in the 32nd minute, unleashing a first-time volley from the edge of the box. The ball found its way through a crowded box and bounced in front of a sprawling Karanjit Singh, who could have done better.

The home side looked more purposeful in its attack in the second half, winning the ball high up the pitch and creating pressure on the Jamshedpur line-up. But it lacked the cutting edge to open up the resolute defensive unit.

Chennaiyin could have found a way back into the game within seven minutes after the restart but Augusto went for a shot from outside the box, ignoring the run of an unmarked Fransisco Fernandes. His shot didn't trouble Subrata Paul as it went wide off the goal. In fact, the veteran Indian custodian didn't have to pull off any acrobatic saves during the entire match, calmly dealing with any cross which came his way.

 

Jeje, who was often isolated in attack, brought the crowd alive with 20 minutes left in the game. The diminutive forward was on the end of a give and go with substitute Rene Mihelic, but his left-footed swipe into the face of the goal was not met by his teammates. Two minutes from regulation time, Rafi met a corner kick from Mihelic, whose looping header found its way into the back of the net to spark jubilant celebrations.

Chennaiyin would welcome the point gained from this game as it will head into its next game against Kerala Blasters without centreback Mailson Alves.

Chennaiyin leads the pack of yellow cards with 40 against its name.

 

Coach John Gregory wouldn't have been happy with his side losing its head as both center-backs Alves and Henrique Sereno picked up their fourth and seventh yellow cards of the season, within a minute of each other.

Sereno had a chance to redeem himself deep into extra time to complete Chennaiyin's comeback.

Mihelic provided a sublime cross from a free-kick at the far post, but the onrushing Portuguese failed to connect with the ball as Jamshedpur breathed a sigh of relief.