Chennai in the ascendency after 3-0 win over Kolkata
Chennaiyin FC put in a clinical performance to beat Atlético de Kolkata 3-0 in the first leg of their 2015 Hero Indian Super League semi-final clash at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex Stadium in Pune on Saturday. Bruno Pelissari scored a brilliant free-kick in the first half before strikes from Jeje Lalpekhlua and Stiven Mendoza in the second period made it 3-0 for Chennai, thereby handing the southern-outfit a massive advantage for the return leg.
Chennai made an attacking start to the game with the league’s top-scorer Mendoza forcing keeper Amrinder Singh into a double save in the second minute. Zakeer Mundamapara then took a long-range shot at ATK’s goal but Amrinder once again was positioned perfectly to thwart the danger.
Pelissari was next to have a go at ATK’s goal when he unleashed a powerful shot from range in the 19th minute which just flew over the crossbar. Iain Hume had Kolkata’s best chance of the half in the 33rd minute when his shot was blocked by Chennai’s defence after a cut-back from an ATK free-kick.
The match exploded into life in the 38th minute when Pelissari stepped up to what looked like an innocuous free-kick from a long way out. The 22-year-old though had other ideas as he ran up and laced the ball from about 40 odd yards into the back of the net to hand his side the lead.
Kolkata faced another blow soon after with skipper Borja Fernandez having been taken off due to injury. Serbian striker Dejan Lekic replaced the Spaniard and injected a sense of urgency into the reigning champions attack. The substitution almost paid off instantly when Lekic was a whisker away from getting his head on a Jaime Gavilan set-piece. However, Chennaiyin FC went into the break with a deserved 1-0 lead.
The defending champions began the second half with intensity and substitute Lekic almost levelled things up for Kolkata when he shot just wide of Chennaiyin FC’s goal. Thoi Singh flicked on a header shortly after to put Jeje Lalpekhlua through on goal. Amrinder though was alert to the danger and was quick off his line to close down Jeje.
Jeje made amends the next time the ball came to him in the penalty area. Mendoza did brilliantly to get onto a long ball before keeper Amrinder. The Colombian then ran with the ball at his feet into the penalty box with Amrinder off his line and squared it to Jeje who slotted the ball into the an empty net to make it 2-0 for the Super Machans.
Jeje returned the favour to Mendoza in the 68th minute when he played a delightful ball over ATK’s defence to put the Colombian clear on goal. Mendoza made it 3-0 with a clinical finish into the bottom corner for his 12th goal of the season.
ATK could have pulled one back in the 76th minute through Lekic who found himself with space inside Chennai’s penalty box. Skipper Bernard Mendy, however, did superbly to block two shots from the big Serbian striker to keep it at 3-0 at the end of the 90 minutes which firmly puts the Super Machans in the driver’s seat for the return leg on December 16.
Club Award – Chennaiyin FC
Swift Moment of the Match – Bruno Pelissari [Chennaiyin FC] (Watch here)
Amul Fittest Player of the Match – Iain Hume [Atletico de Kolkata]
HP Transformer of the Match – Bernard Mendy [Chennaiyin FC]
ISL Emerging Player of the Match – Jeje Lalpekhlua [Chennaiyin FC] (Watch here)
Hero of the Match – Stiven Mendoza [Chennaiyin FC] (Watch here)