Jeje shoots Chennaiyin into last four

Chennauyin FC heaved a sigh of relief and celebrated as Jeje Lalpekhlua found the back of the net in the 64th minute to confirm their entry into the semi-finals, at the Balewadi Sports Complex, here on Saturday. It was the seventh defeat for FC Pune City.

Jeje Lalpekhlua's (left) goal ensured Chennaiyin's passage in to the last four.   -  ISL Sportzpics

Chennauyin FC heaved a sigh of relief and celebrated as Jeje Lalpekhlua found the back of the net in the 64th minute to confirm their entry into the semi-finals, at the Balewadi Sports Complex, here on Saturday. It was the seventh defeat for FC Pune City.

With Colombian star striker Stiven Mendoza — the league’s highest scorer with 11 goals — proving to be the visitor’s livewire, it was only a matter of when he would prove to be the game changer, either by scoring or creating a chance for a teammate.

It so happened mid-way in the second half when he set off from the right touch line, getting the better of a group of defenders. His short pass was well controlled by Jeje whose second left-footed attempt — the first rebounding of Pune defender Govin Singh — beat the diving English goalkeeper Simonsen to his left.

The goal gave Chennaiyin FC three crucial points in their last league match, taking their to 22 points with seven wins in 14 games.

The hosts weren’t able to outsmart the Chennaiyin FC defence, as Alessandro Potenza, Mailson Alves and Meharajuddin Wadoo were hard to crack.

Clearly, Marco Materazzi’s team were on the look out for a goal which would given them some degree of safety, and on this count Elano Blumer, Thoi Singh and Mendoza were prowling upfront.

The Colombian almost got his 12th goal, in the 14th minute, but his left foot pile driver was saved well by Simonsen. One may have lost count of the number of times Mendoza went down sprawling, but in the 66th minute it seemed a genuine fall when Eugeneson Lyngdoh brought him down from behind and picked up his fifth yellow card of the second season.

Chennaiyin FC took the field making four changes in the starting line up with Alves, Manuele Blasi, Harmanjot Khabra and Elano coming in. Pune, meanwhile, made five changes bringing in Simonsen, Gurjinder Singh, Fanai Lamrempuia, Lyngdoh and Yendrick Ruiz at the start.

Frayed tempers blemished the match in both halves, but eventually what mattered was the goal by Jeje. Elano and Thoi Singh had their chances to increase the lead and Romanian Adrian Mutu wasted his for the home team.

Chennaiyin FC will not have the services of Elano and Wadoo — both being booked four times this season — in the first leg of the semi-final.

“There was pressure on us. Both the teams played well. In the end the result was good for us,” said Marco Materazzi.

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