I-League 2018-19: Chennai City beat Lajong to extend lead at the top of the table
A brace from Pedro Manzi ensured crucial three points for Chennai City against Shillong Lajong on Monday...

Chennai City FC beat Shillong Lajong 4-2 on Monday in a crucial I-League 2018-19 encounter at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Shillong.

Pedro Manzi netted a brace (78', 90') and fellow Spaniards Sandro Rodriguez (7') and Nestor Gordillo (81') were also on target to see Chennai pick up vital points. Kitboklang Pale (23') and Samuel Kynshi (84') scored for the home side.

Alison Kharsyntiew made just one change in the Lajong starting XI which face a humiliating defeat against East Bengal in their last match. Kenstar Khongsit came back into the lineup replacing Rakesh Pradhan.

Three changes in the Chennai City FC XI which managed a 3-3 draw against NEROCA FC last Monday. Goalkeeper Mauro Boerchio, who recently joined Chennai City FC from NEROCA FC, made his debut for the league leaders replacing Kabir Thaufiq. The other two changes are Pravitto Raju and Alexander Jesuraj in place of Sinivasan Pandiyan and Ranjeet Pandre.

The visitors were in the ascendancy right from the kick-off and picked up the first goal as early as in the seventh minute of the match. Spanish attacking midfielder Sandro Rodriguez broke the deadlock with a curling corner which beat Lajong goalkeeper Phurba Lachenpa at the near post.

Soon after conceding the opening goal, the home team were hit by another blow as goalkeeper Phurba Lachenpa had to leave the field with an injury as Neinthovilie Chalieu replaced him.

Lajong, though, came back strongly in the match after the double blow as they equalised in the 23rd minute. From a counter-attack, Mahesh Singh forwarded a through ball for Kitboklang Pale who went past his marker and found the back of the net beating Boerchio in the near post.

The attacking duo of Mahesh Singh and Pale combined brilliantly in the attacking third and came close to score again on a couple of occasions. The two youngsters kept the Chennai defenders on their toes for the entire first half.

Both teams looked desperate for a second goal as they went into attack right from the beginning. Akbar Nawaz introduced striker Ameeruddin Mohaideen in place of central midfielder Pravitto Raju at the hour mark.

Lajong missed the easiest chance of the match to score the second goal as Samuel Kynshi failed to score from a very close range. Kitboklang Pale squared the ball to Kynshi inside the box and Kynshi had just Mauro Boerchio to beat but his shot hit the near post and went out.

Much to Chennai’s relief, Pedro Manzi scored his 17th goal of the season to reclaim his team’s lead in the 78th minute. The Spaniard headed the ball into the net from Sandro Rodriguez’s curling free-kick.

Nestor Gordillo then netted the third goal in the 81st minute to seal the fate of the match. The Spanish winger headed the ball into the goal from Pedro Manzi’s cross.

Just when Chennai thought that they were running away with this game, they gave away a penalty to Lajong in the 84th minute as Josef Kaplan brought down Mahesh Singh inside the Chennai box. Samuel Kynshi converted the penalty to pull one back for the hosts.

But Pedro Manzi killed Lajong's hopes of coming back into the match by scoring the fourth goal for the visitors in the 90th minute. After exchanging a brilliant one-two with compatriot Nestor, the striker found the back of the net. With his 18th goal, Pedro became the joint top scorer of the league with Willis Plaza.

Chennai somehow managed to hold on to their lead and pick up crucial three points from Shillong and extended their lead at the top of the table. Lajong continued to languish at the bottom of the table after today’s defeat.

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