Chennaiyin FC return to winning ways with clinical victory over Odisha FC

Chennaiyin FC moved level on points with Jamshedpur FC to sit in the third spot in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) table after a 2-1 win over Odisha FC at the Tilak Maidan stadium in Vasco, Goa on Saturday.

Goals from Germanpreet Singh (23’) and Mirlan Murzaev (63’) gave Chennaiyin FC a 2-0 lead before Javi Hernandez grabbed a consolation in the dying seconds of the match.

There was little to choose between the two teams on the points table ahead of the match as Odisha FC sat a place and point above Chennaiyin FC in the standings and it reflected on the pitch in the opening ten minutes where neither team gave a lot away to their opponents.

The first opening of the match came in the 17th minute when Vishal Kaith came off his line but failed to deal with a corner. Odisha FC recycled the ball and it fell to Hernandez who had drifted inside after taking the corner. His shot though was straight at Kaith who pocketed the ball in two attempts.

Two minutes later, Chennaiyin FC almost profited from a misjudgement from the Odisha FC defender who allowed a long ball to run. Lallianzuala Chhangte seemed favourite to reach it but goalkeeper Kamaljit Singh was alert to the danger and cleared it before the Chennaiyin FC forward reached it.

The Super Machans broke the deadlock in the 23rd minute after a patient and incisive build-up saw Anriudh Thapa whip in a cross across the face of the goal. Kamaljit in an attempt to cut it off could only punch it straight to Germanpreet who on the second attempt found the back of the net to put Chennaiyin FC in front.

Two minutes later, Chennaiyin FC came close to doubling the lead when Jerry Lalrinzuala latched onto a long ball that Odisha FC had failed to clear before cutting it back for Chhangte whose shot went inches wide of the far post.

However, as the half wore on, Odisha FC did well to get on the ball more and had a couple of chances to equalise from dead-ball situations. On both occasions, Hernandez couldn’t find the target.

Chennaiyin FC went into the break with their noses in front but with just a slender lead to protect.

Bozidar Bandovic’s men started the second half strongly and should have added a second goal when Chhangte who was played in on goal failed to score despite being in a one-on-one situation with the goalkeeper in the 50th minute.

Odisha FC were unfortunate not to equalise five minutes later when Aridai Suarez charged at the heart of the Chennaiyin FC defence after Odisha FC had pinched the ball in midfield, but his shot from outside the penalty area struck the woodwork.

There was no such misfortune for Chennaiyin FC who were able to double their lead in the 63rd minute when Murzaev struck a sweet right-footed strike from range that dipped over Kamaljit and into the back of the net to make the score 2-0.

Bandovic threw in three new players to ensure his team had enough fresh legs to see the game through and the changes seemed to pay dividends when all three substitutes – Edwin Vanspaul, Lukasz Gikiewicz and Rahim Ali – were involved in constructing a move that helped Chennaiyin FC win a penalty for a foul on Vladimir Koman in the 84th minute.

But Kamaljit saved from the spot from Gikiewicz to ensure the score stayed at 2-0. Hernandez then grabbed a late consolation for Odisha FC with a screamer from thirty yards but it was a case of too little, too late.

The defeat pushed Odisha FC out of the top four as they dropped to fifth place in the table.

Chennaiyin FC will be back in action on Wednesday when they take on Kerala Blasters in the southern derby while Odisha FC will face FC Goa in their next match on Friday.

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