ISL: Valskis, Crivellaro take Chennaiyin to sixth spot

Chennaiyin FC registered it fourth win of the season as it defeated NorthEast United FC 2-0, with goals from Rafael Crivellaro and Nerijus Valskis.

Nerijus Valskis celebrates his goal, which doubled Chennaiyin's lead in the second half.   -  M. Vedhan

Chennaiyin FC registered its fourth win of the season, and its most dominant one yet, at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Thursday. Second-half goals from Rafael Crivellaro and Nerijus Valskis condemned NorthEast United FC to its fourth defeat of the Indian Super League campaign.

The first half was largely Chennaiyin’s but it was the visiting side that had the first chance of the match. Less than a minute in, Martin Chaves controlled the ball on his chest and passed it between the home team centre-backs to debutant Andrew Keogh. The Irishman tried to nutmeg Vishal Kaith but the goalkeeper managed to pull off a last-ditch save.

Following that chance, the half was dominated by the home team. Four minutes in, Lallianzuala Chhangte found Rafael and the Brazilian’s low pass into the box was met by Valskis, whose shot bounced off the crossbar.

Six minutes later, Edwin Vanspaul – converted into a midfielder to deal with Germanpreet Singh’s suspension – lined up a right-footed volley from 30 yards out which was tipped over the bar by Subhasish Roy on the stretch.

Match highlights | Chennaiyin vs NorthEast United

On another night, Andre Schembri would’ve gone home with the match ball. In the space of twenty-five minutes, he had three chances to break the deadlock but couldn’t find the back of the net.

Two minutes later, Edwin found himself on the edge of the box again but this time he chose to slip in Anirudh Thapa, whose pass across the face of the goal was sent wide by Schembri. The Malta-born forward then saw his header – via a deflection off Valskis – saved on the line by Subhasish.

With nine minutes left in the half, Schembri missed an open goal with his header after Subhasish failed to collect Thapa’s cross.

The home team continued to dominate in the second half. With multiple chances not being converted, the match needed a moment of genius to break the deadlock. And it arrived in the 57th minute.

Near the halfway line and under no pressure, Rafael looked up, found Subashish off his line and channelled his inner-David Beckham – unleashing a left-footed shot that sailed over the keeper and into the goal.

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The Highlanders misplaced their passes all evening and two minutes after the goal, they were finally punished for it. Valskis intercepted a pass on the edge of the box and found the top corner of the goal with the keeper rooted.

With their tails up, a confident Chennaiyin turned up the style. Chhangte showed neat footwork inside the box before shooting wide and later let one fly from outside the box that was saved by the keeper.

Thoi Singh, on as a substitute, had the chance to scored a third in the final minute but shot straight at the keeper.

With the win, Chennaiyin moves to sixth in the table – six points off the last playoff spot which is currently occupied by Odisha FC. NorthEast stays ninth after a lacklustre performance, with its chances of moving up the table looking slimmer with every passing match.

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