Chennaiyin FC finished its season in style as it secured a thrilling 4-3 win against NorthEast United FC in an Indian Super League match at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Friday.
Rahim Ali, Kwame Karikari, Anirudh Thapa and Sajal Bag found the net for Chennaiyin, while Jordan Gil got a brace, and Parthib Gogoi scored one for NorthEast.
It was Chennaiyin which opened the scoring in the third minute. Julius Duker’s aerial through ball found Ali, who beat the offside trap with a well-timed run and had a clear run at goal. Once inside the box, he kept calm and poked the ball into the bottom corner.
The Marina Machans maintained momentum and dominated the first-half with their expansive play through the flanks.
The Highlanders only had one chance in the first-half in the 25th minute. Gani Nigam found Jithin M.S. with an excellent through ball between two Chennaiyin defenders. Jithin, who made a run inside the box from the left, ran out of options and decided to shoot. Samik Mitra was alert and made a good reaction save to deny Jithin.
Chennaiyin started the second half strongly like the first, but it was NorthEast which made its chance count and grabbed the equaliser against the run of play. Parthib found Gil inside the Chennaiyin box with a snappy reverse pass. Gil, under pressure, made space for himself and tucked the ball in the bottom-left corner.
The Marina Machans did not have to wait long before taking the lead again. NorthEast became a victim of poor defending again as it could not clear its lines. Thapa’s shot was blocked and the ball fell to Edwin, who pulled the trigger from distance. The shot was saved by Arindam, but he could not prevent the rebound, as Karikari found the net in the 56th minute.
Chennaiyin found its third in the 62nd minute after Thapa got at the end of a crossfield long ball from Ninthoi. He got the ball down with sublime control, made his way inside the NEUFC box, and lashed the ball in, beating Arindam at his near-post.
Most thought a two-goal cushion meant the match was over, but the Highlanders had other ideas.
In the 74th minute, Parthib dispatched a venomous shot from about 30 yards out. The ball swerved mid-air and flew into the roof of the net.
Just six minutes later, Chenniayin displayed some amateurish defending. Vafa Hakhamaneshi had ample time but failed with his attempted clearance as the ball fell to Gil, who made no mistake in finding the net for the equaliser.
But the Marina Machans left it late in the second-half added time to grab the winner. It was another counter-attack by Chennaiyin, which the NorthEast failed to deal with. Abdenasser El Khayati, a second-half substitute, played the perfect cameo and set up Bag, who scored the late winner.
SUPER CUP PLANS
Asked about his plans for the Super Cup and if he plans to add any players, Brdaric said, “Building a team needs a lot of patience and dedication. Right now, we have just finished our season. We want to enjoy the win today. Once we are back, then we will evaluate and see who will stay in the Chennaiyin squad for the Super Cup.”
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