ISL: Chennaiyin salvages crucial away goal in drawn affair

Anirudh Thapa scored the equaliser for Chennaiyin after Manuel Lanzarote had given Goa the lead in the first leg of the ISL semifinal.

Chennaiyin's Anirudh Thapa scores against FC Goa

Anirudh Thapa wheels away in celebration after scoring Chennaiyin's equaliser against FC Goa.   -  ISL/SPORTZPICS

 

Two goals within the space of seven minutes from either side capped off a gruelling game of football where neither team gave away an inch to the opposition in the second semifinal of the ISL here on Saturday.

As it happened

While host FC Goa was slightly the better team on the day, Chennaiyin FC once again came back from behind to salvage a 1-1 draw and will be the happier team taking home a crucial away goal advantage into the second leg on Tuesday.

It took till the 64th minute to find the first goal of the tie when Manuel Lanzarote sneaked in a deflection off the Chennaiyin's Anirudh Thapa after he blocked a shot from Ferran Corominas to put the home side in the lead.

But within seven minutes, Chennaiyin answered when Gregory Nelson sent in a beautiful pass to Thapa, who shot between the legs of the Goa’s keeper to equalise.

Earlier, it was an entertaining opening first half of the game with end to end play. As promised by FC Goa coach, the home side came out playing to its strengths and never sat back for a moment.

Match stats

 

In the opening twenty minutes of the game, Goa attacked strongly from the left flank with Mandar Desai producing some threatening runs. In the fourth minute, Desai sent in a heavy cross to the far post but it was too tough an ask for Corominas to meet the ball.

Immediately after, Desai released Narayan Das who sent in a cross but found no support.

Chennaiyin soon had its first chance of the day when Francisco Fernandes sent in a cross to Jeje at the near post but the Indian striker could not find the narrow-angle and shot wide.

In the 12th minute, a long ball found Lanzarote, who got a very good first touch but custodian Karanjit Singh and Mailson Alves combined well to clear it off.

Chennaiyin had another chance towards the end of the first half when Fernandes set Nelson up but the latter could not find the far post.

In the second half, Chennaiyin had two golden chances in the first few minutes but Goa's 'keeper Laxmikant Kattimani did well on both occasions.

First, Alves sent in a long ball to Jeje, who chested it before taking a shot with only the keeper to beat but Kattimani did well to block it. Right after that, Nelson went past two defenders to get into a one-on-one with the keeper and tried to send it wide of him only for the skipper to stretch his left leg wide to block it.

While Goa looked more threatening whenever on the attack, at the end of the day Chennaiyin’s defense did well to withstand the pressure yet again even as both teams were made to work very hard to find the net.

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