Alves’ headers and Augusto’s strike give Chennaiyin their second title

Chennaiyin FC clinched the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2017-18 title after edging Bengaluru FC 3 – 2 in the final at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru on Saturday. Mailson Alves scored with two headers from two corners while Raphael Augusto scored the other for the visitors. The Blues had taken the lead through Sunil Chhetri while Miku bagged his team’s second deep into injury time.

Bengaluru started with intent and went ahead in the 9th minute. Udanta Singh sped away on the right flank and dinked in a ball towards the centre. The cross took a slight deflection off Alves, but Chhetri’s diving header ensured that the Blues drew first blood.

That spurred on the visitors as they surged forward with intent and were rewarded seven minutes after falling behind. Gregory Nelson curled in a corner and Alves out-jumped everybody with a towering header that kissed the inside of the post before going in.

What followed was some brilliant defensive work from Chennaiyin to prevent Bengaluru from regaining the lead on the half-hour mark. Rahul Bheke’s cross was headed into the path of Dimas Delgado by Inigo Calderon. Delgado’s consequent half-volley looked destined for goal, but Calderon recovered to stay present on the line and head the shot away.

The Blues, however, didn’t learn from their mistake when it came to defending corners, and were punished just before half-time. Nelson this time came up with an out-swinger from a corner, and Alves, despite being under pressure from Juanan, found the back of the net with his head to take a 2 – 1 lead into the break.

The visitors did not appear to lose any momentum after the restart as they almost got themselves a third goal in the 51st minute. Nelson dribbled his way past Bengaluru’s defence, and opened up space for himself to get a shot on target. But Blues custodian Gurpreet Singh Sandhu used his lanky frame to good effect as he stretched to come up with a low, diving save.

The third goal did come though, seven minutes after the hour mark. Jeje Lalpekhlua held off his markers and passed to Augusto. The Brazilian took one touch to set himself up and with the second produced a sublime shot to place the ball pass Gurpreet into the net.

The Blues then threw everything forward in search of a goal, and came close in the 72nd minute. Substitute Victor Perez, who had his first taste of Hero ISL in this match itself, put in a corner, and Chhetri’s header was tipped over from point-blank range by Chennaiyin keeper Karanjit Singh.

The Blues skipper followed up that chance with an eye-popping miss four minutes from time. Miku showed good strength to bully his way into the penalty box and cut back for Chhetri. But with the entire goal at his mercy, he surprisingly blasted his shot over the goal.

Bengaluru did pull one back in the second minute of injury time though. Udanta’s deep cross from the right flank was met with a thumping header by Miku in the centre which gave Karanjit little chance. But that proved to be too little too late as Chennaiyin FC became the second team to earn the distinction of being two-time champions.

MATCH AWARDS

Club Award: Chennaiyin FC

Swift Limitless Player: Raphael Augusto

DHL Winning Pass of the Match: Gregory Nelson

Amul Fittest Player: Sunil Chhetri

Emerging Player: Jerry Lalrinzuala

Hero of the Match: Mailson Alves

Watch the match highlights here:

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