Chennai City ended their Federation Cup journey on a good note as the Southerners beat Churchill Brothers from Goa, thanks to strikes from Dhanpal Ganesh (18'), Edwin Vanspaul (61') and Charles de Souza (79'). Brandon Fernandes however scored a consolation goal towards the end through a penalty kick. The 3-1 result meant that the Konkan outfit's days in the tournament came to an end too.
The I-League newbies kick started in a 4-3-3 shape which saw change of charge in between the sticks. Shahin Lal Meloli replaced Karanjit Singh whereas their back four saw Joseph Clemente come in place of Debabrata Roy. As for the Red Machines , Derrick Pereira made just one change from their previous tie against 1-2 loss against I-League champions Aizawl FC with Anthony De Souza being introduced to replace Surchandra Singh in the attack.
The first half began with Chennai City trying to put early pressure on the Goans as Joseph Clemente, Zakeer Mudampara and Edwin Vanspaul tried to create chances from the left.
The men in yellow and green were easily the better side in the initial quarter of the game and they found the opening goal in the 18th minute. It was Dhanpal Ganesh who registered his name on the score-sheet as the 25-year-old single handedly took the ball forward, running towards the post. The former Pune FC player put in all his efforts to get past all of the Derrick Pereira's defensive forces and eventually got the better of the goalkeeper Naveen Kumar too.
The game slowed down since Ganesh’s strike as the two sides failed to spice up things on the pitch. However, around the half hour mark, the Konkan outfit had a golden opportunity to grab the equalizer through a set-piece.
As Bektur Talgat moved forward with a pass from Brandon Fernandes, the Kyrgzstan-born player was brought down just outside the box. This led to a free-kick from a dangerous position. 22-year-old Brandon Fernandes stepped up for the free-kick but his shot hit the woodwork. Goalkeeper Shahin Lal was fortunate to not concede the goal as it was a great effort from the midfielder.
That was all from the initial half as the two teams entered the tunnel at the half-time whistle on a 1-0 score-line in the favour of V Soundarajan and co.
The latter half saw early action from the Goans as Ansumana Kromah stormed towards the equalizing goal. However, he became the victim of a wrong decision by the linesman. As Brandon Fernandes released the ball for the Liberia player up-top, the latter rushed forward with the ball. However, the linesman waved the flag terming it offside when Kromah was comfortably onside.
Later, around the one hour mark, V Soundarajan’s men doubled their lead. It was Nandhakumar who assisted Edwin Vanspaul as the latter did well to cut past Churchill Brothers’ defenders and then turn to shoot at the goal. He released a really low shot and Naveen Kumar, who was away from the delivery, assumed the ball would roll past the post but goalkeeper was wrong as the Tamil Nadu born attacker celebrated a really unexpected delivery finding the back of the net.
The Rohit Ramesh-owned outfit didn’t take too long to extend their lead as sealed their victory in the 79th minute. This time it was their Brazilian attacker Charles De Souza who got the better of Shahin Lal. First, Dhanpal Ganesh shot at the goal and Chennai City goalkeeper Shahin Lal did well to punch away the danger but the ball rebounded. Charles de Souza was around to make the most of the bounce as he stormed the delivery into the back of the net.
Two minutes later, the men in red found some respite as they won themselves a penalty kick following a challenge inside the penalty box which saw Brandon Fernandes being brought down by Joseph Clemente. Brandon stepped up for the set-piece and made no mistake in denying Shahin Lal of the clean-sheet.
The 3-1 result meant that Chennai City and Churchill Brothers both have been knocked out of the tournament. Khalid Jamil’s Aizawl and Kolkata heavyweights East Bengal have progressed to the semi-finals from Group A whereas the other two semi-finalists from Group B are yet to be decided.