Kalinga Super Cup: Chennaiyin secure win, Mumbai City FC beat Punjab FC 3-2
Chennaiyin FC must secure a victory against Mumbai City FC in the final group stage, while the Islanders need only a point to advance to the semi-finals.
In Tuesday's Kalinga Super Cup Group C matches, Indian Super League (ISL) sides Chennaiyin FC and Mumbai City FC clinched victories and set the stage for an intense battle to determine the group winner on the final day.
The Marina Machans secured their first win in the cup competition with a 2-0 victory over Gokulam Kerala FC. Meanwhile, Mumbai City FC continued their winning streak, triumphing in a thrilling 3-2 encounter against Punjab FC.
The Islanders will face Chennaiyin FC in their final group stage match on Sunday, while Punjab FC will take on familiar foe Gokulam Kerala FC in an early kick-off on the same day.
Chennaiyin FC secure comfortable win over Gokulam Kerala FC
Chennaiyin FC have secured a convincing 2-0 victory over I-League side Gokulam Kerala FC in their group stage match in the Kalinga Super Cup at Kalinga Pitch 1.
Goals from Connor Shields and Irfan Yadwad helped the Marina Machans clinch their first win and move to second place in the table.
After drawing in the opening fixture against Punjab FC, Chennaiyin FC entered this game with all eyes on three points to keep their hopes alive in the competition. The absence of their main attacker, Rafael Crivellaro, who was suspended for this match, was thought to make things difficult for Owen Coyle’s side.
However, the ISL side started the game on the front foot with dominance in ball possession. The opening goal came in the 26th minute when full-back Ankit Mukherjee set it up for Connor Shields, who displayed a clinical finish to put his side ahead.
Chennaiyin FC continued to press forward, showcasing their attacking intent and fluid passing, but couldn’t add to their goal tally before the half-time break.
Following the change of ends, the Marina Machans tried to remain more composed in front of the goal to get a cushion goal. Coyle made a triple substitution just before the hour mark, and forward Irfan Yadwad, who came on as a substitute for Rahim Ali, doubled the lead for Chennaiyin FC with a clever finish in the 68th minute.
Soon, things worsened for Gokulam Kerala FC as the I-League side was reduced to 10 men when midfielder Rishad PP was sent off for a poor challenge on Yadwad.
Chennaiyin FC could have scored a couple more goals if Yadwad and Jordan Murray had converted their chances. The Marina Machans will now need a victory against Mumbai City FC to qualify for the semifinals.
Young Lotjem's late winner help Mumbai City FC see off Punjab FC
Mumbai City FC claimed a comeback victory over Punjab FC, securing two wins in two matches in the Kalinga Super Cup. Ayush Chhikara's brace and a stoppage-time goal from Seilenthang Lotjem cancelled out Luka Majcen’s double, sealing another late victory for Mumbai City FC.
Similar to their game against the Islanders in the ISL, Punjab FC took the lead but couldn't maintain it, leading to the end of their journey in the Kalinga Super Cup.
The two sides carefully tested each other in the opening quarter before unleashing attacks and counter-attacks. Punjab FC broke the deadlock through Majcen in the 28th minute, capitalizing on a brilliant play among the trio of Majcen-Wilmar Jordan-Madih Talal. Talal set up the Slovenian forward, who made no mistake putting it beyond Phurba Lachenpa.
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In the 34th minute, Nasser El Khayati set up Chhikara, who narrowly missed his chance. However, minutes later, Chhikara found the back of the net with a measured attempt at the near post, and the two sides went into the break level.
The Shers came close to finding the leading goal at the start of the second half, but Lachenpa's brilliance denied them. Petr Kratky then introduced Jorge Pereyra Diaz to maintain pressure on Punjab FC's defence, and they were soon rewarded with the second goal.
Gurkirat Singh attempted to set it up for Chhikara, who managed to connect with the delivery and sent it past Kiran Limbu in the 56th minute. Punjab FC also brought in Juan Mera, continuing to apply pressure in search of an equalizing goal.
Despite Lachenpa making a couple of fantastic saves to keep the scoreline intact, Majcen found himself open in front of the goal and smashed it into the back of the net, pulling his side back into the game.
Kratky introduced fresh legs through Lotjem and Sanjeev Stalin, and it was the 19-year-old Lotjem who came through in stoppage time to score the winning goal for his side.
The Islanders will now only need a point against Chennaiyin FC in their final group-stage match.