ISL 2020-21: Thapa, Goncalves goals lift Chennayin to first place

ISL 2020: Last season's runner-up and two-time champion Chennaiyin FC got its campaign off to a winning start with a comfortable victory over Jamshedpur FC.

Anirudh Thapa

Chennaiyin FC's Anirudh Thapa struck in the 52nd second to score his side's fastest-ever ISL goal.   -  ISL MEDIA

Chennaiyin FC prevailed 2-1 in a thrilling, end-to-end contest against Jamshedpur FC to get off the mark in the Indian Super League (ISL 2020-21) at the Tilak Maidan in Vasco on Tuesday.

Chennaiyin proved too strong and too quick on the night for its former boss Owen Coyle in the Jamshedpur dugout. New signing Esmael Goncalves scored from the penalty spot and had earlier played his part in the opening goal, which came in the first minute of the game.

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It was his low cross from the right which Anirudh Thapa, operating as a right-sided midfielder in a diamond 4-4-2, fired into the net from inside the box. The 22-year-old became the first Indian goal-scorer of the season.

After taking the lead, Chennaiyin looked comfortable playing on the break with skipper Rafael Crivellaro pulling the strings in the middle. In the 26th minute, Goncalves doubled the lead from a spot-kick after Issaac Vanmalsawma’s foul on Lallianzuala Chhangte.

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Chennaiyin had four shots on target within the first 30 minutes, and it needed TP Rehenesh to stop his side from falling further behind.

Jamshedpur’s threat came down the flanks thanks to Chennaiyin’s narrow shape. Nerijus Valskis met Jackichand Singh’s cross with a leaping header to pull one back nine minutes before the break. That remained the only big chance that came his way as he struggled for service.

Chennaiyin could have added to its lead in the second half but a penalty shout went against striker Jakub Sylvestr. Chhangte got into promising positions on the counter but was let down by some poor decision-making.

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Chennaiyin goalkeeper Vishal Kaith offered a way back for Jamshedpur when he spilled the ball into the feet of Issaac but luckily for him, Enes Sipovic cleared the effort off the goaline.

Chennaiyin stood firm in the final stretch of the game to get Csaba Laszlo’s reign off to a winning start and go to the top of the table.

The result: Jamshedpur FC (Nerijus Valskis 37’) 1-2 Chennaiyin FC (Anirudh Thapa 1’, Esmael Goncalves 26’)
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