Succi’s goal scripts Chennaiyin’s first-ever win over NorthEast
Defending champions Chennaiyin FC won their second 2016 Hero Indian Super League game on the trot when they beat table-toppers NorthEast United FC 1-0 at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati on Thursday. Davide Succi’s goal in the 49th minute from the edge of box proved to be the difference between the two teams in a match attended by almost 33,000 passionate fans.
The opening few minutes were quite subdued with both teams being cautious off the blocks. The first real chance of the half came in the 16th minute when Baljit Sahni’s attempt at a cross clipped a defender through to Succi, who couldn’t capitalise on the loose ball collected by a diving Subrata Paul.
The 27th minute saw Siam Hanghal being brought down outside the box by Didier Zokora and the resultant free-kick by Maurizio Peluso wobbled its way to Paul, who did well to palm it away before Hans Mulder headed over the rebound. The game sprung to life at this juncture with the Highlanders earning back-to-back corners with one of them a free header put over by Gustavo Lazzaretti.
In a big blow to NEUFC’s hopes, Nicolas Velez had to limp off the field in the 38th minute. The final major chance of the half again went to Chennaiyin with Maurizio Peluso striking a dipping shot on goal off Baljit’s short corner but a diving Subrata again made a good save as both teams went in 0-0 at the break.
The deadlock was broken four minutes into the second half as Succi found the back of the net with a breath-taking volley from the edge of the box. Hanghal’s long ball was volleyed on the turn with Succi’s back initially towards goal. It left NorthEast’s fans stunned as the Super Machans celebrated the Italian’s brilliance.
NorthEast pulled together quickly as Katsumi Yusa got past his man and turned in a low cross which seemed to be heading towards Holicharan Narzary but young Jerry Lalrinzuala somehow made the crucial interception to save the day. The Highlanders had another chance minutes later with Emiliano Alfaro through on goal. This time Bernard Mendy pulled out a crunching tackle to thwart the striker.
The game kicked into high gear with NorthEast giving it their all, earning a series of corners in the process. It seemed the home side would equalize any moment but the Chennaiyin defence was resolute and held on to their one goal advantage with Alfaro wasting a couple of chances towards the end of the match. With their first-ever win against the Highlanders, Chennai now move up to third in the standings with seven points from four matches.
Club award: Chennaiyin FC
Amul Fittest Player of the Match: Katsumi Yusa
DHL Winning Pass of the Match: Siam Hanghal
Maruti Suzuki Swift Moment of the Match: Jerry Lalrinzuala
ISL Emerging Player of the Match: Siam Hanghal
Hero of the Match: Bernard Mendy