Colombian striker Mendoza Valencia scripted another glorious winning story for Chennaiyin FC in the Indian Super League match against Mumbai City FC at the D.Y.Patil Sports Stadium here in Friday. Watched by a little over 10,000 spectators, the 23-year-old who scored the first hat trick of this league against Goa FC, deployed his left foot deftly to get the better of the home team goalkeeper Subrata Paul and then used his head to get his second goal as the visitors began to deflate the home team and outplayed them eventually. It was Chennaiyin FC’s third straight win against the home side which lost 1-5 and 0-3 in the inaugural year of the league.
Mendoza’s goals in the 60th and 66th minutes did not come against the run of play. In fact the numbers should have been much more impressive in favour of the Southern team, had it not been for some brilliant saves under the crossbar by India goalkeeper Paul. Mendoza, Jayesh Rane, Raphael Augusto and Elano Blumer could have easily been in the score sheet by the end of the first half.
All of them sent robust pile drivers towards the last line of defence, but Paul deployed his lower and upper limbs to keep every shot away from the target; especially the left footers by the marauding Mendoza and 1.81 m tall Brazilian Augusto. On most occasions they would have outsmarted the goalkeeper trying to convert most of the opportunities from outside the penalty area. A superb deflection over the bar just before half time when Elano took a direct free kick reflected Paul’s powers of concentration and fighting spirit.
The match began with the referee showing the yellow card to Chennaiyin FC mid-fielder Thoi Singh for stamping on Lalchhuanmawia Fanai. Thereafter Ashutosh Mehta, Frantz Bertin, Cristian Bustos and Sony Norde appeared to be getting into the groove but much against the run of play, it was Mendoza who got the first clear opportunity to have a go at the Mumbai citadel.
Brazilian and last year’s star man Elano pulled the strings in midfield with fine support from Harmanjot Khabra and Augusto. Even if the home team enjoyed a high percentage of possession of the ball, it was the likes of Mendoza, Elano and to an extent Rane who held attention and appeared to be constantly posing danger.
A goalless first half was not a true reflection of the way the two teams played; even Mumbai’s Norde came close to find the back of the net; he ran hard, but Chennaiyin FC defender Mehrajuddin Wadoo proved to be better as he deflected away a left footer from Norde. But once Mendoza struck twice in the second half, the writing on the wall was clear for Nicolas Anelka’s team playing its first home match.