Chennaiyin open ISL account with Goa demolition

It was a concoction prepared last year; of the Elano-John Stiven Mendoza duo shredding opponents’ defence into bits. It was delivered for the first time in this season’s Indian Super League on Sunday as Chennaiyin FC, courtesy a goal from the former – along with two assists – and a hattrick from the latter, pummelled FC Goa 4-0 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Fatorda.

John Steven Mendonza (left) of Chennaiyan FC scores against FC Goa during the ISL match in Fatorda on Sunday.   -  PTI

It was a concoction prepared last year; of the Elano-John Stiven Mendoza duo shredding opponents’ defence into bits. It was delivered for the first time in this season’s Indian Super League on Sunday as Chennaiyin FC, courtesy a goal from the former – along with two assists – and a hattrick from the latter, pummelled FC Goa 4-0 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Fatorda.

Coming after two back-to-back defeats, the result was a much needed one for manager Marco Materazzi even as it made his counterpart in Zico suffer his first defeat of the season.

Chennaiyin was off to an electric start. There were as many as four attacks in the first five minutes. Thoi Singh swung two dangerous crosses immediately after kick off.

Then, a wonderful through ball by Elano from the centre of the pitch brought the first chance of the match, but was fluffed by Jayesh Rane whose weak shot went straight to the ‘keeper. The Brazilian’s craft was on display again within minutes when another of his passes split Goa wide open only for Mendoza miss.

The opening goal finally came in the 10th minute with a third such ball, latched on to and converted by Mendoza through a one-on-one with the goalie.

Joffre Mateu and Denson Devdas, who started in the two defensive slots for Goa in a 4-2-3-1 formation, were run over in the initial phase. The duo was late to almost every ball as Chennaiyin pressed high. This led to Zico swapping the positions of his No. 10 Leonardo Moura and Joffre.

Even as it brought a semblance of stability to the back line, Joffre’s natural instinct to hold up and slow down play hurt his side. In the 17th minute, off a low cross by right-back Keenan Almeida, Joffre instead of taking a first-time shot from just inside the area, held back and was duly dispossessed. A minute later, right back Keenan Almeida missed with just the ‘keeper to beat.

Goa were guilty of playing too narrow. Romeo Fernandes, stationed on the right flank and whose pace might have troubled the Chennai defence, didn’t see even a bit of the ball.

On the other hand, winger Thoi was relentless on the right side. It was he who stole the ball from defender Debabrata Roy – who had a forgetful evening – and passed to Jayesh Rane, who in turn squared the ball to Elano for 2-0 just before the break. Then, the marquee player was denied from point blank range, when Thoi ran the length of the pitch and delivered a neat cut-back.

A searing counter-attack brought the third goal on 63 minutes when Elano, after collecting the ball from deep inside his half, beat two men and passed for Mendoza to score. The Colombian had his third, twelve minutes later, when a fine cross by substitute Bruno Pelissari found Mendoza in the box and the striker, after chesting it down, blasted a shot into the left top corner.

At the break, Zico shifted to a three-man back line, introduced Bikramjit Singh so that Moura could assume a more attacking role. But it was that kind of a day when nothing went right for Goa. It was neatly summed up when a strike from C.S. Sabeeth, after hitting the woodwork, clearly went in but even the Goa players didn’t bother to claim it.

The result: Chennaiyin FC 4 (Mendoza 10, 63, 75, Elano 43) bt FC Goa 0