Pelissari strike helps Chennaiyin FC down Kerala Blasters
Second half substitute Bruno Pelissari produced a late moment of magic to help league leaders Chennaiyin FC beat Kerala Blasters FC in Kochi by a 1-0 margin and extend their lead at the top of the Hero Indian Super League. With this win, Marco Materazzi’s side, who logged 22 points, move five points clear of second placed Atlético de Kolkata. The first home defeat leaves the hosts at fourth place with 15 points.
Chennai emerged victorious for the second time in what was dubbed as the south Indian derby having won 2-1 in their hometown earlier. With over 60,000 fans behind them, Kerala were favourites to win tonight but the visitors were clearly the better side on the night.
The game started with both sides being unable find the right passes in the middle of the park. Chennai looked the more threatening but Kerala looked more organised at the back with Sandesh Jhingan sweeping up everything in his path. There were 27 free kicks awarded in the first half itself and most of the efforts were from outside the box.
Kerala went on the back foot after goalkeeper-manager David James left the pitch in the 20th minute after picking up an injury and was replaced by Sandip Nandy. Hero of the Match Bernard Mendy and Jeje Lalpekhlua linked up well on a couple of occasions but the Mizo striker was unable to apply the finishing touch.
The second half started with a great chance for Kerala with CS Sabeeth playing Iain Hume through on goal. The No 10 hit the ball across the face of goal and just wide of the post.
A match winning substitution by Materazzi saw Cristian Hidalgo taken off for Pelissari late in the second half. In the 87th minute the 21-year-old Brazilian carried the ball from his own half into the Kerala box from a corner at his end. With a couple of defenders in front of him, Pelissari stepped inside and beautifully curled the ball into the far corner with his left foot past a helpless Nandy. Great composure and technique from the Brazilian to net his third goal in the league.
Chennai could have killed the game off a couple of minutes later. Substitute Jayesh Rane was in a one-on-one situation with Nandy, but Jhingan came sliding in to take the ball off his feet just as he was about to shoot.
Chennai host FC Goa on December 5 at home while a day earlier the Blasters host NorthEast United FC in Kochi.
Hero of the Match: Bernard Mendy (Chennaiyin FC)
Swift Moment of the Match: Bruno Pelissari (Chennaiyin FC) (Watch here)
Amul Fittest Player of the Match: Jairo Suarez (Chennaiyin FC)
ISL Emerging Player of the Match: Jeje Lalpekhlua (Chennaiyin FC)