Chennaiyin end Kerala’s top four chances despite Ogbeche heroics

Chennaiyin FC beat Kerala Blasters FC 6-3 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi on Saturday to end any chances of the Kochi-based side making it to the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2019-20 semi-finals. On 14 points from 15 matches, the maximum points tally Kerala can get to at the end of the league phase now is 23 – the same as current fourth-placed side Mumbai City FC. The Islanders, however, have a better head-to-head record against Kerala this season and will finish above them even if the two are tied on 23 points for the fourth spot after the full quota of 18 games.

Kerala skipper Bartholomew Ogbeche almost engineered a brilliant comeback with a hat-trick but it wasn’t quite enough to rescue any points from the match.

  • Rafael Crivellaro scored in the 39th minute to put Chennaiyin in the lead.
  • Nerijus Valskis made it 2-0 at the cusp of half-time, before Crivellaro added to the tally just seconds later.
  • Bartholomew Ogbeche scored to make it 3-1 in the 48th minute but Lallianzuala Chhangte restored Chennaiyin’s 3-goal lead in the 59th minute.
  • Ogbeche scored in the 65th and 76th minute to make it 4-3.
  • Chhangte and Valskis scored late goals for Chennaiyin to make the scoreline 6-3 in Chennaiyin’s favour.

It was an entertaining start to the match with both teams trying to seize the initiative in the early phases. As the match progressed, the momentum kept swinging between the two teams. Gianni Zuiverloon’s volley from range went just over, much to the relief of Chennaiyin custodian Vishal Kaith. Chennaiyin, too, had a dangerous chance in the opening twenty minutes but Nerijus Valskis’ flicked header narrowly missed the Kerala goal.

In the 22nd minute, Kerala had a big penalty claim after Jerry Lalrinzuala’s heavy challenge on Messi Bouli, but the officials turned it down. Kerala enjoyed the lion’s share of possession, while Chennaiyin were content, picking their opportunities on the counter. Despite some easy-on-the-eye football, however, notable chances seemed scarce. The floodgates, however, opened after first goal came about in the 39th minute. Rehenesh, in an attempt to play the ball out, conceded the possession to Rafael Crivellaro, who made sure he punished the mistake and slotted it in to make the score read 1-0 in Chennaiyin’s favour.

On the cusp of half time, Chennaiyin made it 2-0. A lovely piece of one-two passing between Crivellaro and Valskis culminated in a shooting opportunity for the latter, who fired home his 11th of the season. Seconds later, the Kerala defence was left on its heels yet again as Crivellaro finished off a quick counter attack to give the visitors a 3-0 lead going into the break.

Kerala pulled a goal back early in the second half, as Bartholomew Ogbeche slid in to put the finishing touches to a cross from the left in the 48th minute. Chennaiyin responded almost immediately restored their three-goal advantage just before the hour mark. A defensive misstep by Raju Gaikwad allowed Valskis to set up Lallianzuala Chhangte for an easy finish past Rehenesh.

Kerala could have reduced the deficit almost minutes later but unfortunately for Kerala, Ogbeche’s overhead kick came out after rattling the woodwork. In the 65th minute, however, Ogbeche managed to find the back of the net as he placed his shot past Kaith from outside the box.

Crivellaro could have completed his hat-trick in the 75th minute but Rehenesh pulled off a brilliant save to deny the Chennaiyin man.  Ogbeche, at the other end, grabbed his treble – the first of Hero ISL 2019-20 – as he headed home a Halicharan Narzary cross seconds later.

Sticking to the trend of the second half, however, Chennaiyin hit back yet again through Chhangte to make the scoreline 5-3 heading into the final ten minutes of regulation time. The goal set up a frantic final few minutes of the contest with both teams trying to go for more goals. Chennaiyin even found one in added time as Valskis scored his 12th of the season to put the finishing touches on the scoreline. It was also the joint-highest scoring match in the history of Hero ISL alongside FC Goa’s 5-4 win over Chennaiyin back in 2016.

Hero of the Match – Lallianzuala Chhangte

The Chennaiyin youngster put in a brilliant shift, steaming up and down the flanks all match. He also pitched in with a brace at important phases of the game and won the Hero of the Match award.

AWARDS

Club Award – Chennaiyin FC

Maruti Suzuki Limitless Player of the Match – Bartholomew Ogbeche

DHL Winning Pass of the Match – Rafael Crivellaro

ISL Emerging Player of the Match – Jerry Lalrinzuala

Hero of the Match – Lallianzuala Chhangte

Watch the match highlights here:

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