They were together at the top for a while with the same number of points, but ATK had an upper hand over Chennaiyin FC by virtue of their superior goal-difference. The points are still the same but their 3-1 victory against Pune City FC, has resulted in the ATK and Chennai swap the top position as the Southern India team is now leading on goal-difference. For nearly 40 days, ATK ruled at the summit and now we have a new leader after Wednesday’s home game for Chennai at the Nehru Stadium in Tamilnadu’s capital city.
The match began in an explosive fashion with both teams mounting attack on each other’s goals. In the second minute, Chennai’s live-wire winger John Mendoza got into action but his efforts could not be translated into the goal. In the fourth minute, Pune responded with a counter through Davide Colomba, whose powerful strike went off the target. In the next minute, it was Jeje for Chennai but his header went over the post. It was a great start from the viewpoint of spectators, who saw attacking football from the time that they took their seats in the stadium. Chennai got a corner in the 8th minute but Elano’s kick was brilliantly intercepted by the Pune goalkeeper. Three minutes later, a Jeje-Mendoza combined effort ended with the lost possession. To Chennai’s bad luck, Elano injured himself and went off the field in the 12th minute to be replaced by Bruno. In the 19th minute, Chennai wasted a free-kick as the ball landed straight into the keeper’s hands. For the first 30 minutes, it was Chennai, who had the bulk of the ball possession but they couldn’t find the clear opening. At this point, Gouramangi Singh got injured and left the field and Balwant Singh came to take his place. Before the break, Chennai had a few more chances but the strikes went off the target. There was a danger moment for Pune, when a defender gave a back-pass to the goalkeeper but Chennai’s Pelissari closed in really quickly but the damage was averted. Pelissari had another chance two minutes later but his strike sailed over the crosspiece. The halftime ended goalless.
In the second half, Chennai began with renewed vigor. Unfortunately, the shots were still off the target. Finally, the home side broke the deadlock in the 62nd minute, when keeping the ball in his possession, John Mendoza ran towards the goal. As he approached the box, Mendoza found Balwant. The Colombian passed the ball to Balwant and entered the box. Balwant didn’t disappoint as he sent the pass back to Mendoza, who coolly lifted the ball over the head of the onrushing Pune goalkeeper. Chennaiyin FC went 1-0 ahead with this brilliant goal. Immediately afterwards, Pune began looking for the equalizer, which came in dubious circumstances, a few minutes later. As Pune launched an attack, a shot from Colomba got deflected into the Chennai goal after it hit Djemba-Djemba’s foot. The own goal for Chennai brought the scores level at 1-1. Chennaiyin FC continued to raid Pune goal territory and finally in the 71st minute, Bruno Pelissari took a shot. This time, Pelissari’s strike got deflected by Cirillo into the goal and the hosts went 2-1 ahead. No more goals came until the end of 90 minutes of regulation time. But when 3 minutes were added as injury time, Jeje and Balwant combined well and a nice ball from Balwant Singh was cleverly slotted into the goal by Jeje. The match ended with the score of 3-1 in favor of Chennai.
For their next matches, Chennaiyin FC will travel to Mumbai on November 23, while Pune City FC will also play an away game at Goa on the previous day.
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