Chennai City and NEROCA played out a 2-2 draw in the I-League match held on Saturday at the Khuman Lampak Stadium.
The hosts scored within seconds after kick-off through Khanngam Horam (1'). The 2018-19 champions came back from behind in the first-half itself with the help of goals from Mashoor Shereef (21') and Adolfo Miranda (45+2'). Philip Adjah (90') scored from the spot to help his team pick up a point late in the game.
Gift Raikhan made just one change in the NEROCA lineup which defeated Punjab FC 4-3 in their last match. Manjit Sharma replaced Rojen Meetei.
Akbar Nawaz made three changes as Tareef Akhand, Ranjeet Singh, Charles Lourdusamy replaced Rohit Mirza, Pravitto Raju, and Vijay Nagappan.
It took NEROCA only 21 seconds to break the deadlock when Khanngam Horam scored from Nauzet Santana’s howler. The Spanish goalkeeper’s shot from inside the box was deflected off Philip Adjah and fell to Horam who pushed the ball into an empty net.
Mashoor Shereef restored parity in the 21st minute for the visitors. Robert Eslava sent a long ball for Ranjeet Singh on the right flank and who, in turn, squared it for the Spanish defender at the edge of the box. Eslava sent a cross into the box which Katsumi kept in play and Shereef headed the ball into the net.
In the 31st minute NEROCA won a penalty after Chennai City’s Charles Lourdusamy accidentally handled the ball inside the box from Pritam Singh’s shot. Subhash Singh, though, failed to convert the spot-kick as Santana pulled off a quality save and made amends for his earlier mistake.
The visitors then took the lead at the stroke of half time. Katsumi Yusa made a solo run down the middle before squaring the ball for Fito, who dribbled past Ousmane Diawara and took a shot from the edge of the box which got deflected off a NEROCA defender and went in.
Chennai's comeback had an impact on NEROCA as they struggled to get back into the game after the restart.
Gift Raikhan opted to make a double change after the hour-mark, bringing on Ronald Singh and Chanso Horam to shake things up in the final third.
Chances were few and far between as the half wore on. With 10 minutes left, Imran Khan turned well and sent a powerful shot towards the goal from the edge of the box but the Chennai custodian got his body behind the effort.
NEROCA were gifted with a goal in the 90th minute when substitute Jishnu Balakrishnan needlessly brought down Imran Khan inside the box. Phillip Adjah converted the resulting penalty to make it 2-2.