A late charge by Chennaiyin FC brought an away-game victory for them, when they took on Mumbai City FC at the DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai on Sunday, November 23. It was the 39th match of the Hero Indian Super League and it went on in an even keel for the better part. However, in a sudden turn of events in the later part of the second half, Chennaiyin FC’s Bruno Pelissari, Dhanachandra Singh and Cristian Hidalgo came up with one goal after another. In a rather quick show of aggression, Chennaiyin FC mauled the home side 3-0, just when only the last 20 minutes remained in the match.
Sunday’s game at Navi Mumbai began on an even note. In the first half, both teams showed some flashes of brilliance, but neither side could come up with the real possibility of scoring. Mumbai looked like having been affected by the absence of Nicolas Anelka, as if a biting tooth had gone out of their attack. In many of their previous games, Anelka had been the focal point of Mumbai’s numerous and dangerous moves from the midfield and therefore, Mumbai lacked that fire on Sunday. Mumbai’s marquee player Freddie Ljungberg also sat on the bench for most time and he came in only after an injury caused Andre Moritz to leave the field. Syed Rahim Nabi came back in the Mumbai side in place of Subash Singh in the starting eleven but could not make his presence felt. Likewise; Chennaiyin FC also missed the creative streak of the ever innovating Elano Blumer and the speed and directness of their mercurial Colombian star John Mendoza. Elano’s place was taken by Portuguese midfielder Tiago Ribeiro. The game in the first half was full of only half chances from both sides. In the 5th minute, Mumbai’s Jan Stohanzl was fed a pass in the box but he couldn’t control the strike as the ball missed the goal by a wide margin. 4 minutes later, it was Chennai’s turn, when Jeje Lalpekhlua’s shot from just outside of the box was cleared by a Mumbai defender. In the 22nd minute, Andre Moritz was brought down by Djemba-Djemba for the second time in 10 minutes and the Chennai player was shown a yellow card. In the 26th minute, Andre Moritz was able to shoot from inside the box but a fine diving save from Chennai goalkeeper prevented any damage. Nothing noteworthy happens in the remaining part of the first half as the teams took a break at 0-0.
In the second half too, the play went on attacks and counter attacks until the 70th minute of play. It was at this juncture that the Mumbai defense crumbled under a sudden and relentless pressure from Chennaiyin FC. Mumbai’s midfielder Jan Stohanzl committed a blunder in giving the ball away, which came to Jeje Lalpekhlua. Jeje passed the ball to Balwant Singh but just as Balwant failed to find the touch, there was Bruno Pelissari in the right place. Making full use of the gifted opportunity, Pelissari struck powerfully and Chennai went up 1-0 in the game. 10 minutes later, Chennai enhanced their lead to 2-0, when Dhanachandra Singh pounced on a sloppy clearance by a Mumbai defender to a free kick taken by Chennai’s Cristian Hidalgo, who had come as a replacement for Bruno Pelissari in the 73rd minute. After the ball fell in Dhana’s path, the Chennai defender coolly struck into the bottom corner with Mumbai defenders watching in horror. The last nail in Mumbai’s coffin was struck firmly when Chennaiyin FC earned a free kick in the 89th minute. For the second time for Chennai, Cristian Hidalgo took the free kick and his brilliant floater clearly deceived Mumbai custodian Subrata Paul. Paul lunged himself full length but his diving effort to save the goal went in vain.
For their next matches, Chennaiyin will travel to Guwahati for a meeting with NorthEast United FC on November 27, while Mumbai City will go to the national capital to take on Delhi Dynamos FC on November 28.