Chennaiyin pour water on Mumbai's semis hopes

On a rainy Tuesday evening, amid a scanty crowd, who braved the incessant rain to catch a game, the Chennai team swept aside Mumbai City FC with a 3-0 win.

John Stiven Mendosa got his goals tally to 10 this ISL season.   -  R. Ragu

Two things have been unstoppable in Chennai over the last week: the rain, which has wreaked havoc in many parts of the city, and Chennaiyin FC, who flooded Mumbai City’s faint hopes of making it to the last four, and winning their third match on the row. On a rainy Tuesday evening, amid a scanty crowd, who braved the incessant rain to catch a game, the Chennai team swept aside Mumbai City FC with a 3-0 win.

With 19 points in 13 games, Marco Materazzi’s men just need a draw to qualify for the playoffs. Once again, the chief architect of Chennaiyin FC’s victory was the tournament’s leading scorer Stiven Mendoza, who seemed to have made it customary to score in every game.

Four minutes into the game, the Colombian striker received a wonderful pass from Zakeer Mundampara from outside Mumbai’s penalty area. From the six-yard box, Mendoza slotted the ball past Subrata Paul into the bottom left corner with ease to give his team the lead.

Jeje doubles lead

Thirteen minutes later, Jeje doubled the lead for the home team. After Thoi Singh struck the ball from inside the box, it looked like the ball was heading straight to the Mumbai keeper. But a puddle of water stopped it abruptly. Capitalizing, Jeje thrusted himself and netted one past the keeper.

Just before the halftime, Thoi Singh, who was on the left flank, passed precisely to Bernanrd Mendy, who chipped it with the right leg over the keeper to the left top corner of the net, to make it 3-0 and asphyxiate the opposition by the first half itself.

In fact, it has been the pattern in Chennaiyin’s last three matches. They had enjoyed a 2-0 lead against the Blasters and a 3-0 lead against Delhi in the last two games.

And, the first-half scoreline seemed to impact the teams’ morale in the second. While, Chennaiyin were confident enough to substitute their best player, Mendoza, for Elano Blumer, Mumbai’s coach Nicolas Anelka, who was animatedly shouting at his players from the technical area in the first half, was silently standing with his hands folded at the back.

Chennaiyin’s formidable defence neutralised Sunil Chhetri. The Indian skipper seemed like a fire-cracker fizzling out in the rain. Chhetri hardly got the ball, and when he did, he was immediately surrounded by at least two of Chennaiyin’s defenders, forcing him to pass the ball. Since his hat-trick in Mumbai’s 5-1 win over NorthEast United, a month ago, Chhetri has failed to score.

Marco Materazzi stuck with the 4-3-3 combination seen in Chennaiyin’s last two games — against Kerala Blasters and Delhi Dynamos.

Final Score: Chennayin FC 3 (Mendoza 9', Jeje 17', Mendy 45') Mumbai City FC 0

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