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'The best goal of my career' - Chennaiyin FC's Rafael Crivellaro on his wonderstrike against NorthEast United FC

12:11 GMT+4 23/01/2020
Chennaiyin vs FC Goa
The Brazilian playmaker has been one of the cornerstones behind the resurgence of Chennaiyin FC...

Even after a display of exquisite attacking football in the first half against NorthEast United FC last Thursday, Chennaiyin FC were still in search of a goal. The likes of Andre Schembri, Nerijus Valskis and Lallianzuala Chhangte had all spurned opportunities.

But 12 minutes into the second half, when one started wondering if Chennaiyin would rue their misses, Rafael Crivellaro decided to take matters into his own hands, or rather his left-foot.

When he received the ball near the half-way line, there was still about 55 yards to goal. But, with one instinctive flourish of his left foot, the Brazilian sent a glorious strike over the head of the goalkeeper who had wandered off his line, and into the goal. There was a moment of disbelief around the stadium before the crowd erupted.

It was a moment of inspiration from a player who has been one of the key figures behind Chennaiyin's upturn in form under new manager Owen Coyle.

"It was a fantastic goal. I think it might be the best goal of my career," the Brazilian told Goal.

"I have scored a lot of great goals but this was amazing. What can I say? It was instinctive. I saw out of the corner of my eyes (the goalkeeper coming off his line) and I did not think. I just took a shot. The ball went very hard and very strong. It was a fantastic feeling."

In fact, Crivellaro admits that this is something he tries often and even revealed that he had once almost pulled it off against former Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas when he was at FC Porto. Crivellaro was playing for Vitoria Guimaraes at the time and even won the Taca de Portugal in the 2012-13 season, making an appearance in the final as well where they beat Benfica.

"I have scored a goal like this back in Portugal. I also almost scored against Casillas one day. But now I scored again. This is not new to me. I try this sometimes but this strike was the best ever for me," said a coy Crivellaro.

Rafael Crivellaro is one of the players who have really come into their own after Owen Coyle took charge of the club at the start of December 2019. He has scored four goals and has three assists to his name in six matches under Coyle. The fluid midfielder is key to Chennaiyin's attack and is their creative outlet. He has 24 key passes to his name, the most in the ISL so far.

"Maybe, with the new coach, we got a new mentality. Things started to work out for us and then you get confidence. With confidence, our game got better. At the beginning, with the losses and draws, our confidence was very low. But after that first victory, we started to feel more confident and things have worked out," he said.

The 30-year-old feels that the team did take a while to get used to themselves, especially in attack. Schembri, Valskis, Chhangte and Crivellaro are all in their first seasons at the club.

"When you have new players at the beginning, we don’t know each other. It is difficult because you do not know their movements and where they like the ball. But after 8-10 matches, we started to have a better understanding. Now, we know where the other guy will be and where he wants the ball. Maybe that is one of the reasons why we have got better in attack," explained Crivellaro.

The midfielder is enjoying his time in India and has been pleasantly surprised by the organisation of the Indian Super League (ISL). While Crivellaro only has a contract at Chennaiyin till March 2020, he is open to staying in the country for another season or two.

"I have a contract at Chennaiyin till March and I don’t have any plans after that. I came from Europe and it has been good so far. But let’s see what happens after the season. I don’t have any plans for now. It’s possible that I might stay in India for one more year. Maybe two more years but I don’t know where I will be," he said.

Understandably, Crivellaro has also been compared to his compatriot Raphael Augusto who spent four seasons at the club before moving to rivals Bengaluru FC. However, Rafael feels they are unfair.

"We are different players with different styles. Raphael was a very good player here and he won two titles. I think it (the comparison) is because our names and the fact that we both are Brazilian and play similar positions. But it is not good to compar," he added.

Whether he ends up staying for another season or not, Crivellaro remains key to Chennaiyin FC's hopes of making it to the play-offs. The fans will hope the Brazilian delivers more memorable moments like the one he did against NorthEast United.