ISL 2017-18: Alves brace helps Chennaiyin FC clinch second title

Mailson Alves leapt above the Bengaluru FC defence not once, but twice to guide Chennaiyin FC to its second Indian Super league title after a 3-2 defeat of the home side.

The moment the ISL trophy was handed to the winner of the 2017-18 season, Chennaiyin FC.   -  K. Murali Kumar

Mailson Alves proved on Saturday night that lightning does indeed strike twice. The Brazilian defender leapt above the Bengaluru FC defence not once, but twice to guide Chennaiyin FC to its second Indian Super league title after a 3-2 defeat of the home side at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium on a cloudy evening.

Chennaiyin now joins ATK as the most successful ISL side.

Bengaluru captain Sunil Chhetri gave the home side the perfect start when he scored a spectacular diving header to break the deadlock in the ninth minute and send the crowd into raptures.

MATCH CENTRE: AS IT HAPPENED

Miku played an inch-perfect through ball to Udanta Singh and the Manipuri winger struck a crisp cross for Chhetri to convert.

It was the home team that did the bulk of the attacking but CFC stole an equaliser in the 17th minute. Gregory Nelson, who had assisted three of his team's last four goals, delivered a delightful corner with surgical precision as Alves rose above the BFC defence to score a mighty header and get the score back on level terms. 

Chennaiyin held on to the momentum and enjoyed a lion's share of possession, but looked vulnerable in defence. Jerry Lalrinzuala was simply unable to match Udanta's pace on the left wing, while Bikramjit Singh was sloppy and failed to clear a couple of simple chances. However, despite being a tad rusty, the back-four managed to hold fort.

 

The visitor survived a scare in the 30th minute when Inigo Calderon failed to clear a cross from Rahul Bheke and Dimas Delgado fired a volley off the rebound. However, Calderon made amends by clearing the ball inches from the goal. 

The pivotal moment of the title clash came in the 45th minute when Chennaiyin scored from yet another corner. Usual suspect Nelson crafted a peach of a corner from the right to find Alves once again, who scored a thunderous header and wheeled away into a Cristiano Ronaldo-esque celebration, patting his chest and telling the crowd to calm down.

Bengaluru began the second half on a positive note and had four corners in a span of two minutes, but failed to convert any. The crowd went berserk when Udanta found the back of the net in the 52nd minute but his attempt was ruled out as offside.  It was then in the 67th minute that Raphael Augusto, who was also part of the 2015 title-winning squad, put the tie beyond doubt with a curling beauty past a flummoxed Gurpreet Singh.

Chennaiyin FC's night to remember at Kanteerava

Jeje Lalpekhlua played in Augusto and the Brazilian took his time and coolly slotted home his second goal of the campaign.

Miku gave Bengaluru a shimmer of hope when he scored a header in the 92nd minute, but it was too little too late as Chennaiyin already had its hands on the trophy.