ISL: Chennaiyin FC 3-1 Hyderabad FC - Talking points

Nerijus Valkis scored a brace as Chennaiyin FC outclassed Hyderabad FC 3-1 at the G.M.C Balayogi Atletic Stadium in Hyderabad on Friday.

Chennaiyin FC was clinical in its 3-1 win over bottom-placed Hyderabad FC in the Indian Super League (ISL) on Friday.   -  ISL

Chennaiyin FC climbed up to seventh place in the Indian Super League (ISL) after beating Hyderabad FC 3-1 at the G.M.C Balayogi Atletic Stadium in Hyderabad on Friday.

Chennaiyin took the lead in the 40th minute when Rafael Crivellaro received a perfect cross from the right by Nerijus Valskis to beat a diving Kamaljit Singh. Valskis doubled Chennaiyin's lead in the 43rd minute when he converted a pass from Andre Schembri at the far corner. The Lithuanian made it 3-0 in the 65th minute after receiving a cut back from Crivellaro.

ISL, As it happened: Valskis hits brace as Chennaiyin beats Hyderabad 3-1

Marcelinho scored a consolation goal for the host with a brilliant strike from outside the box in the 87th minute but it was a case of too little too late for Hyderabad.

Here are Sportstar's talking points from the match in Hyderabad.

Valskis lifts Chennaiyin

Chennaiyin sloppily started the match as Bobo and Marcelinho got into dangerous positions inside the box while Schembri and Crivellaro shot wide. The game sprung into life when Hyderabad full-back Asish Rai cut a back pass straight at Valskis who ran towards the goal and laid it off for Crivellaro to finish.

The forward then curled home a stunning strike from outside in the 43rd minute and mimicked Cristiano Ronaldo's goal celebration. While Hyderabad's forward line huffed and puffed, Valskis was in inspired form as he finished at the far post after receiving a delightful pass from Crivellaro in the 65th minute. He could've bagged his first hattrick of the season in the final minutes of the game but was denied by Nikhil Poojary's desperate block. The striker has been involved in 7 goals and 3 assists this season, joint-top with Goa's Ferran Corominas and ATK's Roy Krishna (8 goals and 2 assists).

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Hyderabad enduring a nightmare

It was further humiliation for Hyderabad FC — which conceded five against Kerala Blasters in the last game —as the host's defenders were at fault for all three Chennaiyin goals. Phil Brown looked unsurprised at his side's baffling performance even as his future as Hyderabad's head coach hangs in the balance.

There was no sense of cohesion in Hyderabad's moves as its full-backs often resorted to passing the ball sideways trying to find a way through the Chennaiyin midfield. Star forward Marcelinho was full of deft touches and cheeky backheels, but none of the showboating helped his team's cause. With six points adrift of the ninth place and a goal difference of -17, there seems to be no hope for Hyderabad to bail out of the rock bottom.

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Race for top four begins

FC Goa, alongside defending champion Bengaluru FC and ATK, looks set to seal a spot in the playoffs while four teams — Odisha FC, Mumbai City FC, Jamshedpur FC and Chennaiyin — fight for the fourth spot, currently held by Mumbai. However, with just four points separating the sides, the battle is set to go down to the wire.

Under Owen Coyle, Chennaiyin has lost two and won two, but the difference in its performances is telling. The sluggishness that plagued the side at the beginning of the season has made way for conversion and crisp passing in the final third. The defence is still a work in progress but the two-time champion looks well equipped to challenge for a spot in the top four.

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