Chennaiyin move up to fourth with Delhi demolition

Chennaiyin FC still might not progress to semi finals but they don’t seem to be going down without a fight. Marco Materazzi’s men once again put up a brilliant display of attacking football on the brink of suspension to beat Delhi Dynamos to stay afloat in the tournament.

ISL top-scorer Stiven Mendoza scored his 10th goal of the season to open the scoring against Delhi Dynamos.   -  R Ragu

It might appear a bit too late. Chennaiyin FC still might not progress to semi finals but they don’t seem to be going down without a fight. Marco Materazzi’s men once again put up a brilliant display of attacking football on the brink of suspension to beat Delhi Dynamos to stay afloat in the tournament,

For a team that have let their opposition counter-attack in quite a few games, Chennaiyin FC’s first goal was a result of a good counter-attack aided by Dynamos’ defensive blunder.

In the 17th minute, except for goalkeeper Antonio Doblas and defender Anas Edathodika, all of Delhi’s players were in Chennaiyin’s half, desperately pushing for a lead. Chennai sensed an opportunity to score. Jeje Lalpekhula seized the ball and sent a long pass towards Stiven Mendoza. Doblas was out of the penalty area, trying to clear the ball with a header. But it fell in front of Mendoza, who passed the ball into the empty net past a hapless Edathodika.

The early lead seemed to have eased the home team’s nerves as their game-play looked more fluent since then. Two minutes after taking the lead Bruno Pelissari almost doubled the score after he made a brilliant run and shot one that was just a few inches away from the net. The 22-year-old Brazilian was everywhere, evading Dynamos defenders and snatching it from those who threatened Chennaiyin’s defence.

Bruno, however, didn’t take a long time to score his first ISL goal. In the 21st minute, Jeje got the ball into the penalty area, struck crisply at the centre of the goal. Doblas blocked, and the ball fell to Bruno, who was on the left side of the box. He struck the ball that curled into the top right corner of the net, beating three defenders and Doblas, leaving them awestruck.

After playing a supporting role in both the goals, Jeje scored his first one of the match, giving the hosts a 3-0 lead in the 40th minute. Delhi’s 4-4-1-1 formation couldn’t stop Mendoza cutting past them. He sprinted past his marker on the left flank and sent the ball into the box. Jeje sensed the opportunity and ran hard to be in the perfect position to receive Mendoza’s cross. The 24-year-old forward tapped it past Doblas, who was far away from the ball.

Jeje, who scored four goals last season (the highest by an Indian), had been a tad unlucky this time. But he doubled his tally nine minutes into the second half. The assist was once again from Mendoza. The Colombian striker tried to beat Doblas with force but the ball deflected and popped in front of Jeje who beat a helpless defender to seal the victory for Chennaiyin.

With eight goals in the last two games, Chennaiyin has a goal difference of six, second best to table-toppers Atletico de Kolkata. With two more wins and a few results in their favour, last year’s league toppers can still make it to the semis.

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