Two-time Indian Super League (ISL) champion Chennaiyin FC plotted a fine come-back to beat the home favourite ATK Mohun Bagan 2-1 and start its campaign on a winning note, at the Salt Lake Stadium on Monday. Chennaiyin trailed by Manvir Singh’s goal in the first half before scoring twice after the break courtesy of goals by substitute Kwame Karikari (penalty) and Rahim Ali, to find the win.
Debjit Majumdar made two crucial saves to keep the scoreboard unchanged in the initial quarter of the action.
The Chennaiyin goalkeeper, who previously played both for Mohun Bagan and ATK before going down south, first cleared a shot from the ATK Mohun Bagan striker Dimitri Petratos in the fifth minute before coming to his team’s rescue again in the 15th minute to block an effort from Ashique Kuruniyan.
ATKMB found the target in the 27th minute off a well-executed counter- attack when Hugo Boumous unsettled the Chennaiyin defence with a flick that set up Manvir, who then played a one-two with Petratos to open the Chennaiyin goalmouth and made no mistake with his finishing.
The action turned on its head after the introduction of Ghanaian forward Kwame Karikari, who came in the 59th minute in place of Senegalese defender Fallou Diagne and effectively challenged the defensive organisation of ATK Mohun Bagan.
Chennaiyin equalised in the 64th minute after Karikari was felled down by the ATKMB goalkeeper Vishal Kaith. Karikari himself scored from the spot to instil the confidence of plotting a win in his colleagues. Encouraged by the equaliser, Chennaiyin did well in keeping up the pressure on ATK Mohun Bagan with repeated attacks.
Karikari set up the win in the 83rd win as he moved in from the right on getting a pass from another substitute Edwin Vanspaul and found Rahim Ali, who was advancing from the left, with a cut-back. Ali finished with a curling shot to find the net and ensured three points for Chennaiyin FC.
The match was held up for around 10 minutes from the 53rd minute as a portion of the stadium floodlights went off.