Chennaiyin FC (Picture credit - ISL Twitter handle)
Chennaiyin FC thrashed NorthEast United FC 3-0 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai on Thursday night. This was Chennaiyin’s first victory at home over NEUFC in the Indian Super League and only their second victory over their North-East rivals.
In an outstanding performance, the home side gave the Guwahati outfit the blues. An own goal and a strike by Raphael Augusto put the former ISL champions 2-0 ahead at half-time. Further, a late goal through Mohammed Rafi helped them earn three points.
Aiming to recover from a 2-3 defeat at the hands of FC Goa in the opener on last Sunday, Chennaiyin FC started in a brisk manner and went on the attack from the word go.
Earlier in the fourth minute, the Highlanders came close to taking the lead but Seiminel Doungel made a hash of it after Chennaiyin shot-stopper Karanjit Singh messed up with a clearance.
The deadlock was broken in the 11th minute as the home team went ahead, albeit through Abdul Hakku’s defensive blunder.Raphael Augusto cut inside from the left and upon seeing the space available kept moving forward and had a shot at the goal.
Hakku, who looked to head it away, directed it straight past his keeper and into the goal. The Chennaiyin players kept pushing in an attempt to increase the lead though NEUFC kept making the occasional foray into the rival box.
In the 24th minute, the home team got what it wanted, a second goal. Bikramjit Singh started with a diagonal into Gregory Nelson who made a run behind the right-back into the box.
Nelson looked to square it with his head, but it deflected off the defender into Raphael Augusto’s path who slotted it in past the diving North East United goalie.
The second half saw NEUFC got off the blocks quickly in pursuit of goals but solid defending by Chennaiyin and poor marksmanship let them down.
Early in the second half, a foul from Chennai skipper Henrique Sereno on Lalrindika Ralte saw NorthEast United get a free kick 25 yards out on the left.
Marcinho fired one towards the right corner but it went over the crossbar, much to the relief of the home players and fans.
As the game wore on and the visiting side’s attempts were thwarted by Chennaiyin defenders, came a third goal in the dying moments. Rafi, who came in for Jeje, headed in after the ball bounced after hitting the NEUFC goalkeeper’s head.
With PTI inputs