Chennaiyin FC became the final team to book a semi-final spot in the 2019 Super Cup. The Super Machans beat 2018-19 Indian Super League (ISL) semi-finalists NorthEast United 2-1 in their quarterfinal game at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Sunday.
Rowllin Borges (9') scored the opener but goals from Mailson Alves (33') and Anirudh Thapa (40') ensured a date for Chennaiyin with ATK on Wednesday.
A fit-again Dhanapal Ganesh featured for the very first time this season. Thapa and Gregory Nelson were the new faces in the lineup from Chennaiyin's midweek AFC Cup clash with Minerva Punjab in Ahmedabad.
Eelco Schattorie could only name five fit players on the bench. Club record-scorer and captain Bartholomew Ogbeche remained unfit but was named among the substitutes. Gurmeet Singh was given a chance between the sticks.
A vibrant United got the lead inside the first ten minutes. From a corner kick which was played short, Lalthathanga 'Puitea' Khawlhring released Panagiotis Triadis, who dribbled towards the byline and sent in a low cross.
After taking a minor deflection off goalkeeper Karanjit Singh, Rowllin Borges tapped home from close range, escaping the attention of Eli Sabia at the far post.
The Guwahati-based side looked threatening for the next quarter of an hour but the former ISL champions initiated a turnaround.
It was another short corner that led to the equaliser in the game. Nelson passed to Thapa and his cross was met by an unmarked Mailson Alves, who leapt to head the ball home past the half-hour mark.
Thapa then turned scorer after Puitea lost the ball in his own half. The India international dribbled into the box, beating both Mato Grgic and the goalkeeper on the angle from his left-footed shot.
Puitea could have made amends during the first half's injury time but his shot from inside the box went inches wide off the upright.
Eelco Schattorie made two half-time substitutions in Keegan Pereira and Girik Khosla. The latter was quite impressive as the John Abraham-owned team showed urgency to make their way back in.
A goal eluded the Highlanders but they came close twice when Juan Mascia hit the woodwork on two separate occasions in the 61st and 77th minute.
Ogbeche came on for the final quarter of an hour and even attempted a failed bicycle kick from Khosla's cross but the Chennaiyin defence absorbed the pressure well.
In a controversial moment in the 87th minute, goalkeeper Gurmeet Singh was lucky to escape a sending-off when he parried the ball off Janeiler Rivas' headed backpass from outside the box.
Both the referee and the linesman missed it but the incident did not change the complexion of the game.