News Live Scores
Indian Super League

Chennaiyin FC show improvement but a lot of work still needs to be done!

3:07 PM GMT+8 28/10/2019
Chennaiyin FC v Mumbai City FC
The 2018 ISL champions put up a good performance but it was still not enough to get all three points...

Diwali evening saw Chennaiyin FC open their account in the Indian Super League (ISL) season six after playing out a goalless draw against Mumbai City FC in Chennai.

While it was not the ideal result for the home team, the festive spirits were not dampened given the improvement they showed after a listless defeat away from home to FC Goa in their season opener.

Both sides had their fair share of chances to settle an entertaining contest in their favour. The game was markedly different from the drab affair that unfolded in the very same fixture last year which, rather ironically, produced a goal with Moudou Sougou nicking the winner for Mumbai.

However, that was not the case on Sunday. Chennaiyin, looking for their first ISL win since February, looked in the mood right from the off. John Gregory's adventurous team selection, which saw him hand starts to Brazilian attacking midifelder Rafael Crivellaro and Anirudh Thapa, looked to have paid off when the team created a host of chances at the start.

In fact, they should have taken the lead within 30 seconds of the game when Rafel played in Andre Schembri whose tame effort rebounded off Amrinder Singh. Rafael, following up, would've thought he had an easy tap in, only to see Amrinder miraculously get a hand on his effort and divert it over. The Mumbai City goalkeeper had just produced two world class saves in two minutes, after the last minute save he produced to deny Bartholomew Ogbeche in their season opener in Kochi against Kerala Blasters.

Undeterred, Chennaiyin kept attacking at each and every opportunity in the first 20 minutes, with Rafael in the thick of things. The left-footed midfielder showed a lot of guile and creativity as he began conducting the game.

A football match always ebbs and flows and that was the same in the first half. Chennaiyin gradually lost their impetus and Mumbai finished the first half stronger. But the home team had only themselves to blame for it. Thapa and Rafael drifted out of the game and the service stopped for Dragos Firtulescu and Lallianzuala Chhangte, Chennaiyin's widemen. Dhanpal Ganesh looked out of his depth a bit, clearly showing a lack of match fitness. That allowed the likes of Rowllin Borges and Mohamed Larbi to gain control over the home side's porous midfield.

Mumbai City, despite Sougou's injury, fashioned good chances to score in the latter part of the first half. Chermiti went close twice as Serge Kevyn, on for Sougou, started troubling the Chennaiyin defence.

Though the initiative was regained by Chennaiyin in the second half, it was not enough to get the winner. Rafael's injury-forced subsitution did not help as well. The lanky Nerijus Valskis, who came on, did a decent job of holding up play but missed a couple of gilt-edged opportunities. 

Though Chennaiyin kept a cleansheet, Gregory would be concerned by the fact that his defence looked shaky at times. Lucian Goian, the captain, was not really at his best against his former team. He was often found out of position and struggled to organise the backline.

Mumbai City, however, had their gameplan. Jorge Costa's team sits back, especially during away games, and looks to nick a goal somewhere. While that did not happen in Chennai, four points from two tough away games is a good haul and they will be buoyant as they return to the Mumbai Football Arena.

Costa will also be happy with the hardwork his team has put in both the games so far, the discipline they have shown in defence as well despite the injury to Mato Grgic. Chennaiyin will be disappointed they could not find a way past an all Indian-backline which was not particularly intimidating.

The Marina Machans definitely had a much-better performance from their opening game. But they need to display better finishing, gain more control in midfield and have a bit more stability in defence if they are to stitch together a winning run.