Jeje Lalpekhlua revelled on his 27th birthday with a brace but his side Chennaiyin FC was held to a pulsating 2-2 draw by bottom-placed Delhi Dynamos at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium here on Sunday.
While it appeared that the home side would coast to a comfortable win, it was the visiting Dynamos side that drew first blood. Delhi opened the scoring in the 24th minute when local boy Nandhakumar Sekar played a delightful inch-perfect cross from the left flank to striker David Ngaihte, who found the back of the net with a well-timed diving header.
Chennai exploited Delhi's prime weakness as admitted by coach Miguel Portugal – the side's inability to deal with set-pieces – to get back on level terms. Birthday boy Jeje rose to the occasion as he headed in a looping free-kick from Rene Mihelic into the bottom-left corner, sending the crowd into a tizzy.
Delhi had a great chance to take the lead in the dying minutes of the first half. Dhanapal Ganesh played a loose back-pass which was picked up by the pacy Lallianzuala Chhangte, who played it to Ngaihte. Nghaite, in turn, passed it to Romeo Fernandes, who forced a spectacular save from Chennaiyin custodian Karanjit Singh and the score remained level at the stroke of half-time.
The home side got off to a flyer in the second half and it was the usual suspect Jeje, who netted his sixth goal of the season in the 51st minute. Germanpreet Singh played a deft pass to Jeje, who squared it up and curled his shot into the top-right corner.
At this stage, it seemed like Chennaiyin would hold on to clinch the tie but Delhi had the last laugh as substitute Guyon Luis Fernandez delivered an equaliser in the 90th minute. Fellow substitute Kalu Uche headed the ball onto Fernandez's path, who slotted the ball home, silencing the vociferous home crowd.
The draw, however, propels Chennaiyin to the top of the Indian Super League table with 17 points for the time being (a win for Bengaluru against ATK will propel it to the summit), while Delhi remains at the bottom with four points.
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