ISL 2017-18: Chennaiyin FC 1-3 Bengaluru FC - Blues strengthen grip at the top of the table
Bengaluru FC extended their lead at the top of the table after overturning Chennaiyin FC at their own backyard.....

Bengaluru FC overcame Chennaiyin FC in a crucial Indian Super League (ISL) clash in Chennai which saw the top-two ranked teams go head to head. Boithang Haokip (2'), Miku (63') and Sunil Chhetri (90+4') scored for the visitors while Francis Fernandes (33') scored the lone goal for the home side.

John Gregory did not tinker with his defensive combination with Inigo Calderon, Henrique Sereno, Mailson Alves and Jerry Lalrinzuala named in the team. Anirudh Thapa continued in midfield while winger Francisco Fernandes came into the team. Jeje Lalpekhlua led the lines for the Marina Machans.

Bengaluru FC, in the middle of a busy run of games, opted to bring in Boithang Haokip in place of Lenny Rodrigues with Dimas Delgado also coming in for Edu Garcia. Harmanjot Khabra came in at right-back instead of the suspended Rahul Bheke while the familair trio of Sunil Chhetri, Udanta Singh and Miku made up the attack.

The Blues made an exhilarating start to the game, surging into the lead within 90 seconds from kick-off. Paartalu's long ball forward was latched on to by Udanta who found Khabra on the right wing. His cross to the far post found Miku who knocked a header back for Haokip who slammed it in off a deflection from Karanjit Singh.

Chennaiyin FC in response tried to engineer an equaliser with the game turning feisty. Henrique Sereno picked up a yellow card for a tussle with Miku. Gregory Nelson then showed the Bengaluru defence a glimpse of what he can do by embarking on a galloping run down the left flank after dispossessing Khabra before cutting in and sending a rasping effort just wide.

The home team had another chance when Nelson found some space outside the Bengaluru penalty box but his low drive was palmed away by a diving Gurpreet.

At the other end, a cleverly worked free-kick routine saw a Johnson backheel catch the Chennaiyin defence off guard but Juanan could only toe-poke his effort high over the bar from close range.

Chennaiyin were leaving spaces behind as they searched for a goal and in the 28th minute, Chhetri fed Bose down the left on a break and the left-back did brilliantly to get to the touchline and find his skipper again. Ultimately, the India captain's chipped cross for Miku was inches away from being headed into an open net.

Chennaiyin found their equaliser in the 33rd minute after Chhetri lost the ball in midfield. Raphael Augusto did well to hold on to the ball before it was sprayed out wide to Nelson who laid the ball for Jerry. The young left-back whipped in a fantastic cross which was met by Francisco Fernandes whose run into the box was not picked up by Bose. The right winger's header from close-range beat Gurpreet all ends up, much to the home fans' delight.

The half ended with the scoreline all square despite both teams pressing forward in search of another goal.

Chennaiyin started the stronger of the teams in the second half and were camping in the opposition half for much of the first 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, a frustrated Bengaluru FC collected three yellow cards as John Johnson, Dimas Delgado and Haokip went into the referee's books for petulant fouls.

However, the home team could not really fashion a goal and were punished for some lackadaisical defending in the 63rd minute. Dimas won a foul from about 25 yards out and then went on to chip a delicious free-kick for Chhetri to run on to. His subsequent volley was kept out by Karanjit but he could not grasp the ball cleanly and Miku was on hand to knock the loose ball in from point-blank range.

The home side poured men forward in attack and had a couple of half-chances to score when Fernandes glanced a header wide and Raphael saw a shot charged down.

The game turned on its head in the 71st minute when Chennaiyin skipper Sereno held back Miku on a counter and was sent off for a second bookable offence.

However, the home team continued to pour men forward and won a penalty in the 75th minute when Dhanpal Ganesh was deemed to have been tripped by Khabra after being sent clear into the box by Nelson.

Up stepped Jeje to take the spot-kick but his effort was tame and Gurpreet could palm it away easily, adding to the drama in what was turning out to be a thrilling affair.

Chennaiyin introduced Jaime Gavilan and Jude Nworuh in search of an equaliser while Roca threw on Edu Garcia and Toni Dovale in response.

As Chennaiyin threw caution to the winds, Bengaluru had several chances on the counter to seal the result and they did so in the fourth minute of injury time when a loose touch from Jerry allowed Miku to square the ball for Chhetri to tap in to an empty net!

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Bengaluru extend their lead at the top of the table to seven points following the victory while Chennaiyin remain second.



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