Chennaiyin defeated NorthEast United 2-0 on Thursday to continue their resurgence in the 2019-20 Indian Super League (ISL) under Owen Coyle.
Second-half goals from Rafael Crivellaro and Neriijus Valskis secured the three points for the hosts. They moved to the sixth spot on the table with 16 points from 12 games.
Andy Keogh made his debut for NorthEast, spearheading the attack in the absence of Asamoah Gyan. Laldinliana Renthlei was the name to watch out for in the Chennaiyin starting line-up a the right-back position.
The game promised drama from the word go, with newcomer Keogh finding himself in a one-on-one situation in the first minute. But it was all Chennaiyin for the next 20 minutes or so, with Lallinzuala Chhangte and Rafael Crivellaro looking lively in attack.
Unfortunately for the hosts, forwards Nerijus Valskis and Andre Schembri undid all the hard work from midfield by squandering the simplest of chances from close range. The former was presented with two very easy chances in the opening ten minutes, one of which was as good as an open goal. Valskis could come as close as hitting the crossbar but never really tested Subhasish Chowdhury.
Schembri too missed sitters to ensure the teams were level when they split for the break.
There was early evidence that Owen Coyle’s half-time talk would work, with Chennaiyin attempting to find the back of the net from distance. With the forwards missing from close range, Crivellaro made sure to test Subhasish from outside the area.
In the 57th minute, the Brazilian attempted an outrageous shot from far out on the left flank after he saw the NorthEast custodian straying off his line. Despite Subhasish’s best efforts, the ball crossed the goal-line, providing us with a strong contender for the goal of the season.
Within two minutes, the hosts doubled their advantage through Valskis from outside the box. Schembri was guilty of missing a one-on-one opportunity, but NorthEast’s inability to clear the danger convincingly provided Valskis with an opportunity to undo his misses from the first half. The Lithuanian striker unleashed a rocket to make it 2-0.
The hosts then controlled the game for most parts, but there were moments where Vishal Kaith had to be quick on his feet. The Highlanders’ best chance of the game arrived in injury time when Martin Chaves’ free-kick from just outside the box kissed the near-post.
Chennaiyin picked up three crucial points, but the manager should look into the missed opportunities in the first half.