Two second half strikes from Mailson Alves (52') and Jeje Lalpekhua gave Chennaiyin FC a 2-1 victory over defending champions ATK for whom Martin Paterson scored on debut (44').
Ashley Westwood, who took charge of ATK as the interim coach after the sacking of Teddy Sheringham, made three changes in the starting XI. David Cotterill, Martin Paterson and Shankar Sampingiraj replaced Tom Thorpe, Hitesh Sharma and Zequinha.
The team lined up in a 4-1-4-1 formation with Conor Thomas partnering Jordi in central defence. Ryan Taylor was deployed in the defensive midfield position and debutant Paterson started upfront as the lone striker.
John Gregory made two changes in Chennaiyin’s starting XI with Raphael Augusto and Francis Fernandes coming in place of Thoi Singh and Rene Mihelic.
Chennaiyin were on top of the game right from the word go. The home side took a safety-first approach and only went forward in counter-attacks. Ryan Taylor was in charge of protecting the backline and keeping an eye on Raphael Augusto who operated just behind forward Jeje Lalpekhlua.
At the stroke of half time, against the run of play, ATK took the lead through debutant Martin Paterson’s goal. Jayesh Rane sent a cross inside the box from the left flank and Karanjit Singh fumbled before losing control of the ball. Paterson tapped in the ball from close range to score his first ever ISL goal.
Westwood introduced Zequinha in the first half itself in place of Ryan Taylor who had to leave the field with an injury. The Portuguese operated from the right flank as Cotterill moved into defensive midfield.
Chennaiyin started the second half in a positive manner and came close to score the equaliser in the 50th minute. Raphael Augusto attempted a long range shot from the edge of the box but Debjit pulled off a quality save to deny him.
Chennaiyin centre-back Mailson Alves scored the equaliser from the resulting corner in the 52nd minute. Anirudh Thapa sent in a curling corner inside the box and an unmarked Mailson rose the highest to head the ball in.
At the hour mark, ATK’s star player Zequinha left the field with a hamstring injury. The winger, who was introduced in the match at the 40th minute, left the field in pain as Hitesh Sharma replaced him.
Chennaiyin further added to ATK’s misery in the 62nd minute when Jeje Lalpekhlua netted the second goal for his side, taking advantage of a howler from Debjit Majumder. Inigo Calderon’s cross from the right side took a deflection off Jayesh Rane and went to Debjit. The ATK custodian failed to collect the ball and Jeje made no mistake in tapping in the ball into an empty net.
Jeje could have sealed the fate of the match in the 70 minute when he found himself one on one with Debjit inside the ATK penalty box but he missed a sitter. The home side threw the kitchen sink in search of an equaliser but the visitors' defence held firm to preserve their one-goal advantage.
Chennaiyin move to the summit after Thursday's victory. They now have 23 points from 12 matches. ATK, on the other hand, remain on the eight position with 12 points from 11 game