Gregory: Bought Valskis and Schembri because they can score goals

Two-time champions, Chennaiyin FC scored two goals after the 90-minute mark to win a thrilling encounter with Hyderabad FC 2-1 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai on Monday. John Gregory’s charges were wasteful in front of goal for most parts but took the lead with the match heading towards the final whistle. The visitors, however, struck back immediately but were once again left trailing as Nerijus Valskis struck with virtually the last kick of the match to cap off a sensational game of football.

After the tie, a delighted Gregory spoke at the post-match press conference and shared his joy. “We had a lot of chances, lot of possession and lot of half chances in the box. (Lallianzuala) Chhangte got in some very good positions in the first half in particular but was never able to pick out a striker in the box. We hit the post. It just looked like it was going to carry on like it has been, being so close yet so far.”

“Andre (Schembri) and Nerijus (Valskis), those two in particular, you see them on the training ground, they score goals on regular occasions. They’re such good finishers. I’ve been somewhat shocked that in the four games, they haven’t managed to get a goal between them. But they’ve persevered at it. Andre took his goal very well, and Nerijus really showed quality. And that was the reason why I bought both him and Andre because I know they can score goals. I just hope for the pair of them and the team, this is the start of more goals to come, and more victories,” he added.

The Englishman then spoke of how he was especially pleased that the efforts of his players were finally rewarded. “I’m pleased for the players. They put in a lot of hard work. I get very frustrated sometimes when we play some good football and get into the last third of the pitch, and then suddenly someone crosses the ball behind the goal. I always want it to be perfect. Today we deserved the victory without any question, but I wish it had been a little bit more comfortable.”

Gregory also reserved special praise for Chennaiyin co-owner, Vita Dani. “I feel pleased for Vita, because she’s been tremendously supportive of me and the players during this really tough time. This is her sixth season. She rarely misses a match, both home and away. That doesn’t happen a lot even in Europe. It’s easy to be supportive when the team’s winning. She’s always been there. She never goes missing,” he said.

Finally, the 65-year-old looked ahead to the coming matches and maintained that Chennaiyin’s target this season is to reach the playoffs. “We are aiming for the playoffs. That’s where we want to be. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t get into the playoffs. We looked at Season 2 when we actually lost six matches out of 14, but we won seven. I think we finished third. That’s possible for us. It was a good result for us on Sunday, with Odisha only getting a draw with ATK. It keeps everybody within range. The Hyderabad result is very important, but Thursday’s result will be more important,” he said.

Read the Match Report here.


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