ISL: NorthEast United 2-2 Chennaiyin FC - Talking points
From Chhangte's late goal to Owen Coyle's play-off priorities, here are the biggest talking points from Chennaiyin FC's 2-2 draw with NorthEast United.
Martin Chaves' doubles went in vain as NorthEast United and Chennaiyin FC took home a point each.
A late equaliser from Lallianzuala Chhangte against his former side helped Chennaiyin FC draw 2-2 with NorthEast United FC in the last game of the league stage of the Indian Super League on Tuesday.
Masih Saighani gave Chennaiyin the lead before two goals in either half by Martin Chaves helped the Highlanders come-from-behind. Chhangte, however, dashed their hopes of a winning end to the season with a late strike.
Here are the three big talking points from the game:
Despite having the chance to take Chennaiyin FC third in the table, Owen Coyle rung in the changes. He made nine changes from the match against Mumbai CIty FC. Edwin Vanspaul and Anirudh Thapa were the two players who survived the cut.
Lucian Goian, Nerijus Valskis and Rafael Crivellaro were a yellow card away from suspension while the rest of the usual starting eleven were rested with an eye on the playoffs.
All the changes contributed to the visiting side's haphazard approach to the game. Passes went astray and the home side was put on the backfoot for the most part. Coyle, however, will not be too bothered about how the game unfolded as most of his first choice players got much-needed rest ahead of Saturday's first leg playoff game against FC Goa.
Familar problems for NorthEast
The Highlanders were all over Chennaiyin for most of the game but they could not make their dominance count. For all the possession and attacking intent, the final ball went missing too often.
It has been a problem for them through this season, even when their star players weren't injured.
At the other end of the pitch, NorthEast held firm in parts but when defending against a resurgent two-time champion, a loss in concentration rarely goes unpunished. First, NorthEast failed to clear a thorw-in and Masi Saighani's snapshot saw it trail early in the game.
With minutes left to seal only its third win of the season, NorthEast again failed to keep hold of the ball and Chhangte, once a Highlander, ran past a few defenders and saw his shot sneak in at the near post.
Chhangte makes his mark
Chhangte's pace and attacking intent was never in question. He quickly became the first-choice winger for the Blues but the one question asked since last season was about his end product.
This season, however, he has shown that he has eye for the goal. His understanding with Valskis and Crivellaro helped add another dimension to Chennaiyin's attack and scored his fifth goal of the season in Guwahati.
With every defence giving extra attention to Valskis, Coyle will be hoping that Chhangte makes the most of his chances and fire his team into the final.