In the opening fixture on Monday, Indian Super League (ISL) side Chennaiyin FC defeated Nepal’s Tribhuvan Army FC 3-0, securing their qualification to the quarterfinals of Durand Cup 2023 as the first team to do so.

Chennaiyin FC Head Coach Owen Coyle named an unchanged starting lineup that had beaten Hyderabad FC while Tribhuvan Army FC Head Coach K.C Megh Raj named one change to the starting lineup from the previous match with Basant Jimba coming in for Suroj Basnet.

Chennaiyin FC pressed hard from the start, giving no time for the Nepal side to settle and as a result dominated the possession. They could have scored inside the first ten minutes with Connor Shields setting up Farukh Choudhary but the latter’s effort went above the crossbar. Connor Shields missed a chance from the very next move. Wing Backs Aakash Sangwan and K. Ajith Kumar were playing high up the field and swinging in good-quality crosses.

The Marina Machans broke the deadlock in the 22nd minute from a good combination move by Connor Shields and Farukh Choudhary. Farukh converted the cutback from Shields past Nepal goalkeeper Bikesh Kuthu.

Chennaiyin FC continued to keep possession and attack the Tribhuvan box continuously. Jordan Murray was fouled inside the penalty area by midfielder Sudil Rai, awarding a penalty for CFC. The penalty was converted by Rahim Ali giving a two-goal advantage for the Marina Machans. The best chance in the half for Tribhuvan Army came late into the half as Basant Jimba caught goalkeeper Debjit Majumder out of position, but his chipped attempt went wide.

Chennaiyin FC continued to play in the same way as Owen Coyle brought in the changes to freshen up the lineup. Their high pressing forced mistakes out of Tribhuvan's side as the Machans looked to increase the score line. The best chance of the half came for the Nepal side as their captain Nawayug Shrestha forced Debjit Majumder to a good save.

The Nepal side did a good job by not conceding in the second half but their resilience was broken in the 84th minute. Brazilian Rafael Crivellaro applied the finishing touches to score the third goal for the side from Chennai and confirmed their place in the knockouts.

Bengaluru FC share the spoils

Defending champions Bengaluru FC were held to a 1-1 draw by Indian Air Force FT in their opening fixture of the Durand Cup 2023 at the Kishore Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata on Monday.

The game was fiercely contested right from the start. However, the youthful Bengaluru FC side dominated ball possession for most of the match, while the opposition relied on counter-attacks.

In the 10th minute, captain Parag Shrivas played a lovely long ball through to Edmund Lalrindika as the latter ran down the left channel, and went past his marker, but his effort at the near post went just wide of the mark.

In the 20th minute, the Indian Air Force side pounced on a schoolboy error from Parag and took the lead through Vivek Kumar against the run of play. The ISL outfit looked to recover and get back in the game, and their forward Edmund seemed the most promising upfront for the Blues.

Near the half-hour mark, he dribbled past the Air Force defence before forcing the keeper into a massive save. Bibiano Fernandes’ men looked more settled towards the end of the first half but were not able to find the back of the net.

In the second half, the Blues intensified their level of attack and at the hour mark, Bengaluru FC did get their all-important equalizing goal through Salam Johnson Singh, who hammered it home from the right flank.

Bengaluru FC looked desperate for the winning goal but could only come close to scoring another in the 88th minute when Robin Yadav’s diving header thumped against the post.

The Blues will next square off against their familiar foe, Kerala Blasters FC, at the Kishore Bharati Krirangan on Friday.