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Indian Super League

Chennaiyin FC and Bengaluru FC play out a riveting draw

18:58 GMT+3 09/02/2020
Chennaiyin vs Bengaluru
The two teams failed to score but played exciting football for 90 minutes...

Chennaiyin FC and Bengaluru FC played out an action-packed Southern derby in the Indian Super League that ended goalless at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium in Chennai on Sunday. 

In what was a well-fought contest, both sides had their chances to clinch the three points on offer but in the end settled for a point each. 

The result sees Chennaiyin continue in the fifth spot, four points adrift of Mumbai City FC who have played a game more. Bengaluru, on the other hand, are now four points behind league leaders FC Goa and ATK

There were surprises to the starting XIs of both sides. While the absence of the suspended Anirudh Thapa saw Masih Saighani get a look in for Chennaiyin FC, Andre Schembri made way for Thoi Singh to conform with the foreign player quota. 

For Bengaluru, skipper Sunil Chhetri was a surprise exclusion from the starting lineup with Ashique Kuruniyan taking his place. 

The opening exchanges had all the makings of a heated derby, with both sets of players showing a lot of intent and intensity. 

Bengaluru were not averse to playing the long ball then and again and it almost brought about an opening in the 10th minute when Saighani misjudged the flight of a long ball and allowed Udanta Singh to challenge for it. The second ball fell for Deshorn Brown but Vishal Kaith was quick off his line to snuff the opportunity. 

The Blues quickly settled into the game, forcing Chennaiyin slightly on to the back foot. In the 18th minute, Ashique did well to get past his marker on the left wing and ping an inviting cross in for Brown but Lucian Goian slid in to deflect it away. 

The chances continued to fall Bengaluru’s way. The first shot on target came in the 27th minute when Dimas Delgado did well to pick out Ashique on the edge of the box. His left-footed drive had to be kept out by Kaith. 

Chennaiyin had to wait until the half-hour mark to create their first opening of note. Rafael Crivellaro gained possession down the left before tricking his way past Albert Serran. He then set Lallianzuala Chhangte free into the box but the diminutive winger blazed his effort over. 

That particular move gave Chennaiyin a bit more confidence as the likes of Chhangte and Rafael started to see more of the ball. However, clear cut chances continued to elude both sides as the half ended goalless.

It was Chennaiyin who started the second half with purpose, enjoying more of the ball and carrying a threat whenever they forayed forward. Bengaluru goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu was forced into a save in the 50th minute by a long-ranger from Nerijus Valskis who was set up by Rafael. 

It was no surprise to see Bengaluru boss Carles Cuadrat attempt to shake things up by withdrawing the ineffective Brown for Nili Perdomo. 

However, Chennaiyin continued to cause problems for the Blues. Attacking changes followed for both teams. Bengaluru introduced striker Thongkhosiem Haokip while Andre Schembri came on for Saighani for the home team. 

Chennaiyin continued to press forward in search for the opening goal. In the 67th minute, a lightning counter-attack from the Marina Machans had to be halted by Albert Serran who scythed down Rafael just outside the area, collecting a yellow card for his troubles. Nothing came out of the freekick, however, with Valskis banging it against the wall. 

Against the run of play, Bengaluru could’ve taken the lead when a long throw into the box sat up for Haokip at the far post. But he lashed his effort wide. 

Immediately at the other end, the impressive Rafael drifted in off the left wing and threaded a brilliant pass for Schembri inside the area. The Maltese striker got his shot past Gurpreet but a combination of Serran and Rahul Bheke kept the effort out. 

The match opened up as both sides chased a result and it could’ve been settled by Semboi Haokip when he was sent through on goal after Chennaiyin lost possession cheaply. But his effort from a one-on-one situation hit the post and bounced back, much to the agony of the Bengaluru supporters.