New kings: Chennaiyin FC snatch ISL trophy in dramatic finish

Chennaiyin FC clinched the Indian Super League season 2 trophy beating FC Goa 3-2 in an eventful final. Three goals in three minutes in the dying stages of the game brought to an end a rollercoaster of a final.

Chennaiyin FC are the champions of Indian Super League season 2.   -  V. Sreenivasa Murthy

A sea of humanity at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Fatorda was silenced in a matter of moments as Chennaiyin FC beat FC Goa 3-2 in the Indian Super League final here on Sunday.

With barely three minutes left Joffre Gonzalez scored off a freekick in what seemed like a winner (at 2-1) only for the visitors to hit back with two goals in a minute to steal the title.

In perhaps a fitting finish, John Stiven Mendoza, the league’s top-scorer, after having missed a penalty earlier, scored the winner in the 90th minute. Just moments before that, Goa goalie Laxmikant Kattimani, had pushed the ball into his own net after failing to collect a long ball.

Earlier Goa named an unchanged side from the one which beat Delhi Dynamos in the semifinal second leg. Chennai, as expected, made one change, bringing in Bruno Pelissari for Elano.

As has been the habit thus far in the season, Romeo Fernandes from the right initiated the first attack sending in a dangerous ball. In the fifth minute, striker Dudu had to be stretchered off, and then packed into an ambulance, following a clash of heads with defender Mailson Alves.

The first clear-cut chance fell to Pelissari in the 12th minute, but was fluffed when a terrific back-heel by Mendoza onto his path, was sent above the goal. Pronay Halder, the right-sided defender in a three-man defence was entrusted with the task of marking either Mendoza or Pelissari whoever drifted wide. Such was his diligence that Mendoza had to shrug him off for sticking to him even when Goa had a corner at the other end.

For Goa, the trio of Joffre Mateu, Leo Moura and Rafael Coelho pulled the strings. Moura in particular was the calmest among all, distributing the ball under pressure with aplomb. Once such move almost brought Goa a goal but a Rafael through ball to Joffre was just out of reach.

On occasions when they were denied space, Goa’s strategy to make a rapid transition from defence to attack involved sending overhead balls with military precision. Romeo sent one such perfectly-weighted ball which however was not capitalised on by Rafael. In the 38th minute, Mendoza showed some quick feet to finally evade his markers, but his shot was deflected and then pushed behind for a corner by Kattimani.

Within ten minutes into the second half, Pranoy, having done ever so well, tackled Mendoza from behind to concede a penalty. Pelissari’s shot from the spot was blocked by Kattimani only for the rebound to be bundled in.

Within four minutes, Goa equalised. Thongkoisep Haokip, having entered the field in place of the injured Moura, tapped a fine cross by Romeo. In the 61st minute Chennai could have gone ahead but Mendoza spurned the chance to convert from the spot after having earned the penalty himself. Kattimani dived to the left to keep his team in.

From then on, for the rest of the match, Goa showed much attacking verve with Rafael causing problems on either wing. But in the end it came to nothing as Marco Materazzi’s men, after having finished a semifinalist in the inaugural edition, claimed the crown.

The result: Chennaiyin FC 3 (Pelissari 54, Kattimani (OG) 90, Mendoza 90) bt FC Goa 2 (Haokip 58, Joffre 87)

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