Chennaiyin go top after comfortable victory over Pune City
The ISL finally saw new league leaders as a late flourish helped Chennaiyin FC beat FC Pune City 3-1 in Chennai to go top of the table. Livewire winger John Stiven Mendoza gave the hosts the lead before a Djemba-Djemba own goal saw Pune equalise. However, straight from the restart, Bruno Pelissari made it 2-1, and Jeje Lalpekhlua's 93rd-minute goal saw the South Indian side replace Atlético de Kolkata at the summit.
Chennaiyin started the match brightly as they instinctively went on the attack. The visitors were up for it though, as both sides had shots early on in the match through Mendoza for Chennaiyin and Davide Colomba for Pune City. There were a few chances for either side but it was the hosts who came closest to breaking the deadlock. Jeje Lalpekhlua's shot from close range following a corner prompted Pune City keeper Arindam Bhattacharya into a superb reflexive save to keep Chennaiyin out. The half eventually ended all square. It was an injury-hit first period as Chennaiyin marquee player and league top scorer Elano, defender Gouramangi Singh, and Pune City defender Daniele Magliochetti all went off with niggles.
It was a completely different story in the second half. Chennaiyin came out firing on all cylinders as they pushed forward with purpose. Pune were content playing in the counter, but struggled to find the right pass to set their forward players off on attacks. Chennaiyin got their reward for persistence in the 62nd minute when Mendoza held on to the ball, made a quick pass and ran into the box as Balwant put in a superb through ball for the Colombian to calmly lift it over the onrushing Bhattacharya. The goal sparked off a flurry of action, as Pune found themselves level a few minutes later when Chennaiyin failed to clear their lines and the ball ultimately fell to Colomba. The Italian midfielder put in a superb low ball that deflected off Djemba-Djemba and into the net. However, from the restart, Chennaiyin restored their lead, as Bruno Pelissari's shot deflected off Cirillo and into the goal. The home side pushed hard to get another goal to take them top, and despite Pelissari and substitute Jean-Eudes Maurice contriving to miss a golden opportunity, Chennaiyin finally struck when Jeje slotted in from Balwant Singh's clever ball.
Chennaiyin head coach Marco Materazzi will be ecstatic to see his team top of the league and will be full of confidence going into their next game against Mumbai City away on November 23. Franco Colomba will hope his Pune City side bounce back after their first loss in five games. They travel to Goa to take on a resurgent side on November 22.
Swift Moment of the Match: Bruno Pelissari (Chennaiyin FC) (Watch here)
Amul Fittest Player of the Match: Bernard Mendy (Chennaiyin FC)
ISL Emerging Player of the Match: Jeje Lalpekhlua (Chennaiyin FC) (Watch here)
Hero of the Match: John Stiven Mendoza (Chennaiyin FC) (Watch here)