ISL: Mumbai City dents Chennaiyin's play-off hopes

Defending champion Chennaiyin FC's hopes of making it to the semifinals suffered a big blow after a 2-0 loss to Mumbai City FC which extended its lead at the top of the ISL standings.

Mumbai City players celebrate scoring against Chennaiyin FC.   -  SPORTZPICS

Mumbai City FC beat Chennaiyin FC 2-0 at the Andheri Sports Complex with goals from Argentine Matias Defederico and Hungarian Kristian Vadocz on either side of half-time.

Facing a must-win situation, Chennaiyin FC seemed low on urgency and was not able to beat a solid Mumbai defence marshalled by Lucian Golan. The home team could have won by a bigger margin but for misses by Sunil Chhetri and Thiago Cunha. Diego Forlan yet again made an impact with the assist for Vadocz's strike, and could have scored himself with a free-kick coming tantalizingly close to the right post.

Mumbai City cruised to its sixth win in 13 games, running ahead of the pack with 22 points. Delhi Dynamos is a distant second (17 points, 11 games). Chennaiyin FC (14 points after 12 games) slid further away from a place in the top four to qualify for the play-offs.

Forlan attracted attention, from the defenders and from the fans, for the style in which he pulled off three goals in the previous game. Chhetri, designated as the second striker, was expected to take avantage of a backline distracted by the presence of the marquee player from Uruguay. Jeje Lalpekhlua was excluded from the visitor's line-up, giving the home team defence some respite.

There were no clear cut chances till the 32th minute when the stands erupted in a roar. Krisztian Vadocz set off the move with a pass to Chhetri, whose neat lay-off to the right saw Defederico arrive on time to sidefoot high into the net.

A reckless challenge from the side by Hans Mulder on Vadocz on the edge of the box resulted in a free-kick at the right spot for Forlan to display his expertise. The home team captain stepped up and looped the ball around the wall. Karanjit in the Chennaiyin goal read the move in time to dive and deflect the ball away.

The game went off the boil on resumption, the frequency of fouls disrupting the flow. But Chennaiyin slipped further behind when Karanjit Singh’s desperate dive to his right went in vain, the volley fired by Vadocz flew off his fingers into the net after Forlan found the Hungarian with a floater from the right flank.

Materazzi brought on fresh legs in the form of Dudu Omagbemi and Daniel Lalhlimpuia in an effort to seize the initiative.

Chhetri got to the end of balls lifted out from the midfield twice, the first time his shot was blocked by a defender, the second time found the Indian blasting over a left-footed shot on the run. Jackichand Singh came in as replacement.

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