ISL 2017: Chennaiyin FC 3-2 ATK - Jeje Lalpekhlua helps Super Machans to a dramatic victory
A second half goal fest saw the game swing from one goalmouth to another but the home side grabbed all three points in the end...

A second-half goal fest saw Chennaiyin FC register an exciting 3-2 win against ATK in the Indian Super League (ISL) match played at the JLN Stadium in Chennai on Thursday. Jeje Lalpekhlua started and ended the goal fest, with Inigo Calderon scoring in between to keep maintain the home side's upper hand. Zequinha and Kuqi notched late goals for the visitors but were undone by the Super Machans' fight back right at the end. 

Chennaiyin FC head coach John Gregory opted to make just the single change to the side that defeated FC Pune City with Raphael Augusto, who picked up a slight niggle, making way for former ATK man Jaime Gavilan.

Teddy Sheringham, on the other hand, rang in three changes as he searched for his first Indian Super League (ISL) victory. Rupert Nongrum, Njazi Kuqi and Debjit Majumder came in for Eugeneson Lyngdoh, Robin Singh and Jussi Jaaskelainen. Interestingly, Rupert Nongrum was deployed in a holding role alongside Conor Thomas.

The game started off at a frantic pace with chances at either end. While a poor back-pass from Keegan Pereira saw Jeje almost capitalise but for Debjit's alertness, Bipin Singh cut in from the left and forced Karanjit into a save from 20 yards out inside the first three minutes.

Jordi Figueras Chennaiyin FC ATK ISL season 4 2017/2018

Both teams settled down soon after and though ATK started to string a few passes together, it was Chennaiyin who had a sight at goal. Francis Fernandes did well to spot an intelligent run into the box by Gavilan. The Spaniard, however, failed to make up his mind and sent an effort, which was neither a cross nor a shot, wide.

The home team were growing in confidence and in the 20th minute, Jeje showed fantastic awareness to latch on to a long booted clearance from Henrique Sereno and entered the ATK box. But Tom Thorpe read the danger quickly and dispossessed him before the forward pulled the trigger.

ATK had a chance of their own a bit later when Bipin Singh's cross from the left wing looked to be heading straight into the net, forcing Karanjit to deflect it over the bar. The visitors then had a shot on target with Zequinha forcing Karanjit into another stop.

With the game opening up, Chennaiyin almost took the lead when Gavilan broke forward, interchanged passes with Jeje, and shot agonisingly wide from outside the box with the ATK defence backing away.

The first booking of the game went Henrique Sereno's way when he impeded Njazi Kuqi just past the halfway line during a quick ATK counter in the 41st minute. However, neither team could find a goal before the referee blew for half-time in what was an evenly contested game till then.

Chennaiyin FC ATK ISL season 4 2017/2018

No changes were made by either team at the start of the second half and the first chance of the half fell Chennaiyin's way when Jerry's low cross from the left was deftly deflected towards goal by Gregory Nelson. But it went straight to Debjit Majumder.

Surprisingly, Jordi Figueras was taken off by Teddy Sheringham in the 51st minute, with Ashutosh Mehta taking his place in defence.

With the game going nowhere, John Gregory opted to bring on Anirudh Thapa for Bikramjit Singh. Teddy Sheringham responded by throwing on his marquee signing Robbie Keane for Bipin Singh for his first ISL appearance of the season.

The opening goal of the match came Chennaiyin FC's way three minutes later. Gavilan worked a short corner before sending an inviting cross into the box. Sereno attacked the ball but saw his header come back off the upright across the goal line. Jeje, perfectly positioned, headed the ball in to send the crowd into raptures.

Jeje Lalpekhlua Chennaiyin FC ATK ISL season 4 2017/2018

Gavilan was soon forced out of the game after picking up a niggle, with Slovenian midfielder Rene Mihelic taking his place.

ATK, who were struggling to create clear-cut chances, were given a lifeline in the 77th minute when the Chennaiyin defence failed to clear a speculative cross into the box. Kuqi was allowed to keep the ball alive in the box before it fell to Zequinha who lashed home an equaliser.

The visitors, on a high, almost snatched a second three minutes later when Zequinha sent Njazi Kuqi through on goal after a Chennaiyin throw-in was intercepted. However, the Finnish forward's strike was parried by an alert Karanjit who closed down space quickly.

Article continues below

In dramatic fashion, Chennaiyin FC regained their lead in the 84th minute after good work from Gregory Nelson. The Dutchman held the ball up well on the left flank before slipping a cute pass for Rene Mihelic inside the box. He laid the ball off for Jerry who spotted Calderon free just outside the area. The Spanish full-back's first-time effort, unfortunately, deflected off Tom Thorpe and went in past a stranded Debjit.

But, the drama at the Marina Arena had only started with ATK equalising yet again in the 89th minute when Robbie Keane did brilliantly well to slip in a through ball for Kuqi, whose first-time effort was saved by Karanjit. But the Finnish striker emphatically volleyed the rebound into the roof of the net.

The stunned crowd were sent into delirium only moments later when Inigo Calderon's cross into the box was handled poorly by Debjit. The ATK goalkeeper palmed it straight on to Jeje's path and the diminutive striker helped himself to his second goal of the game, settling a thrilling tie 3-2 in Chennaiyin's favour.

Comments ()