ISL 2020-21: Crivellaro sparks life back into stuttering Chennaiyin

ISL 2020: Rafael Crivellaro scored a stunning goal and crafted an assist to steer Chennaiyin FC to a 2-1 victory against FC Goa 2-1 in the ISL on Saturday.

Rafael Crivellaro

Chennaiyin FC captain Rafael Crivellaro in action against FC Goa in the Indian Super League (ISL 2020-21) on Saturday.   -  ISL/Sportzpics

Rafael Crivellaro is someone who likes the ball at his feet. Make no mistake, most footballers want the ball with them, but not all can weave magic the way Crivellaro does. His wizardry was on wide display on Saturday as he scored directly from a corner kick and then crafted an assist to marshal Chennaiyin past FC Goa in the Indian Super League (ISL 2020-21).

RELATED| Chennaiyin's Crivellaro scores directly from corner kick

Hailing from Porto Alegre, where a certain Ronaldinho was born nine years before him, Crivellaro joined Chennaiyin last September. Having played two seasons in Asia - first with Ajman Club in the UAE Arabian Gulf League and then with Iranian side Sepahan in the Persian Gulf Pro League - the 31-year-old was touted as a replacement for fellow Brazilian Rafael Augusto, who secured a move to rival club Bengaluru FC.

When asked what he would bring to Chennaiyin, a two-time ISL champion, Crivellaro had a precise response. "I would describe myself as more of a technical player who likes to build play as well as attack. I like to focus on passing, technique, control and organisation."

It would be no exaggeration to say that he delivered the goods, and in style. He contributed seven goals and eight assists in Chennaiyin's stellar campaign that saw it finish runner-up despite languishing near bottom after one-third of the season.

Like last term, he endured a somewhat subdued start this season too. After playing an instrumental role in his side's first goal of the season in the win over Jamshedpur FC, he struggled to find success. He remained an integral part on the pitch, organising his men and finding the spaces, but more often than not the side's finishing was a letdown. He only managed nine shots in his first four games.

Perhaps the elongated off-season was taking a toll on him. In fact, Chennaiyin coach Csaba Laszlo said Crivellaro did not even have a pre-season.

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Laszlo rested Crivellaro for the game against NorthEast United FC, which ended a goalless draw. The team missed his creativity and was below its usual best.

But the time off did a world of good for Crivellaro as he came good against FC Goa on Saturday. The Brazilian scored an 'Olympic goal' as he curled a corner kick with his left foot into the top corner at the far post. The FC Goa goalkeeper and defence leaped and jumped, but they could do nothing to stop that ball from sailing in.

RELATED| Crivellaro shines as Chennaiyin beats Goa 2-1

Having opened his season's tally, he then ensured his side got across the line as he neatly set up Rahim Ali for the winner. Crivellaro got to the end of a through ball, worked the ball to his right, looked up to find Rahim free on the far post, took a couple of deft touches and cut back to his left before laying it sweetly for his team-mate.

Leading from the front as captain, his inspiring performance saw Chennaiyin take away all three points on offer. It only got sweeter for him as he also pocketed all three post-match awards - the hero of the match, the winning pass of the game and the club award.

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