Jeje, Nelson help Chennaiyin clinch upset victory over table toppers Bengaluru

Chennaiyin FC registered only their second win of the season with a well-deserved 2-1 victory over southern rivals Bengaluru FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai on Saturday. It was Chennaiyin’s first triumph since their 4-2 win over FC Pune City back in November 6, 2018.

  • Jeje Lalpekhlua scored his first goal of the campaign to give Chennaiyin the lead on the 32nd minute.
  • Gregory Nelson doubled Chennaiyin’s advantage with a well-taken header on the 43rd minute.
  • Sunil Chhetri pulled a goal back for Bengaluru on the 57th minute.

The match began on a quiet note with neither side being able to carve out any real chances in the opening exchanges. Chennaiyin did enjoy the lion’s share of the possession initially, while Bengaluru opted to sit back and waited patiently for counter-attacking opportunities.

The first real opportunity would eventually fall to Bengaluru. Miku was released on goal by a perfectly threaded through ball from Xisco Hernandez. The Venezuelan ghosted in behind the Chennaiyin defence but couldn’t keep his shot on target.

That miss would go on to haunt the away team a few minutes later as John Gregory’s side went on to open the scoring. Raphael Augusto did brilliantly to evade his markers before releasing CK Vineeth. The striker couldn’t make room for a shot, but his deflected pass fell kindly for Jeje. The Mizo sniper’s powerful strike struck the palms of Bengaluru goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu before finding its way into the back of the net.

The Blues were visibly flustered by the goal and conceded a second only ten minutes later. This time, Laldinliana Renthlei whipped in a delicious cross from the right flank, which fell perfectly to Gregory Nelson. The Dutchman leaped over Rino Anto and expertly directed his header into the bottom corner, leaving Gurpreet with no chance. That would prove to be the last notable piece of action of the first-half as the hosts went into the break with a deserved two-goal advantage.

Chasing a two-goal deficit for the second match running, Carles Cuadrat’s men heaped on the pressure right from the start of the second-half. Unsurprisingly, Bengaluru got themselves back into the match on the 57th minute through Chhetri. The Bengaluru captain timed his run perfectly to beat Chennaiyin’s offside trap, before executing a brilliant diving header which found the back of the net.

As the match entered its final stages, Bengaluru started to turn the screws on the Chennaiyin backline and nearly equalised. A loose ball fell to the feet of substitute Edmund Lalrindika, who squared the ball to Xisco. The Spaniard took a first time shot, but it was too straight to worry Chennaiyin custodian Karanjit Singh.

With just minutes remaining for the full time whistle, Chennaiyin could have increased their margin of victory and killed the tie off. Francisco Fernandes took advantage of some slack defending from Bengaluru to initiate a counter-attack. Nelson ran at the Bengaluru defence with pace before sliding the ball back to Fernandes. However, the midfielder could not keep his shot on target.

Nevertheless, it would prove to be of little consequence as the referee blew for the final whistle a few moments later to seal Chennaiyin’s first victory of the calendar year.

Hero of the Match - Raphael Augusto

Not for the first time, Raphael Augusto was at the heart of all things good for Chennaiyin as he orchestrated proceedings from the middle of the park. He was deservedly named the Hero of the Match.

Match awards

Club Award – Chennaiyin FC

Swift Limitless Player of the Match – Gregory Nelson

DHL Winning Pass of the Match – Laldinliana Renthlei

ISL Emerging Player of the Match – Laldinliana Renthlei

Hero of the Match – Raphael Augusto

What’s next?

Chennaiyin will next ravel to the home of Kerala Blasters FC on February 15, while Bengaluru will hope to get back to winning ways when they take on Delhi Dynamos FC on February 17.

Watch the match highlights here

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