ISL: Lucian Goian strike takes Chennaiyin FC to play-offs

With the win, Chennaiyin FC leapfrogged Mumbai City FC in the points table and earned itself a playoff place in the Indian Super League.

Chennaiyin players celebrate Chennaiyin FC's goal against Mumbai City.   -  ISL/SPORTZPICS

Lucian Goian slotted the ball into the net with a right-footed volley, for Chennaiyin FC’s match-winner in an enthralling, hard-fought 1-0 win against his former team, Mumbai City FC (MCFC). The Romanian arrived at the far post in time for a corner-kick, before squeezing the ball past rival captain Amrinder Singh from a narrow angle to silenced the home crowd at the Mumbai Football Arena on Friday.

READ | ISL winner to get AFC Cup playoff berth

The result took Chennaiyin into the play-offs of the Indian Super League season six, by moving ahead of Mumbai City in the points table with a game in hand. CFC has 28 points from 17 games, one more than MCFC in fifth.

The home side was forced to play with a player short from the 54th minute onwards, following a red card shown to defender Sourav Das for a last man challenge on Lallianzuala Chhangte. Despite the disadvantage, the host seemingly gained strength from its adversity to attack the rival goal, but missed its chances to take the lead.

Two bookings in the space of two minutes in the second half injected life into the game. Vishal Kaith got lucky in the 52nd minute to escape with only a yellow card for a challenge on Amine Chermiti. The goalkeeper rushed out of his goal and cleaned the forward. Although the home team players hoped for a red, the referee deemed otherwise.

From the free-kick, Chermiti's low shot bounced back of the wall, setting Chennaiyin on the counter-attack through Chhangte. The little forward was racing through on goal when Das took the decision to clip the heel of the Chennaiyin player and accepted the red card without complaints.

AS IT HAPPENED

Thoi Singh and Geermanpreet Singh came off the bench for Chennaiyin, as Owen Coyle decided to turn on the pace in search of the win. MCFC attacked with all its might as it needed a win at all costs. Diego Carlos created the best chance of the night for Chermiti, who brought down a long ball from the left with a superb first touch, then toe-poked with his left to wrong-foot Kaith, only to see the ball roll just wide off the left post.

Chennaiyin did the early attackiing at top pace, linking up with slick passing across the rival half. The Islanders survived this early storm and pushed forward, but found Kaith in the rival goal on-form, denying Carlos with a reflex block.

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