ISL 2017: Chennaiyin FC 3-0 NorthEast United: Poor defending costs Highlanders three points down south
The Super Machans pounced on NorthEast's defensive frailties as Raphael Augusto stole the show for the home side...

Chennaiyin FC ended their second 2017/18 Indian Super League (ISL) game with a 3-0 win over NorthEast United at the JL Nehru Stadium in Chennai on Thursday.

Abdul Hakku (11' OG) was guilty of putting the ball into his own net early on. Raphael Augusto (24') doubled the lead and Mohammed Rafi (84') came on late to register first points on the board for the Abhishek Bachchan co-owned team this season.

Having been consigned by FC Goa to a defeat in their opening game, Chennaiyin FC coach John Gregory opted to make four changes to the team that started on Sunday, bringing in midfielders Dhanpal Ganesh, Francis Fernandes, Bikramjit Singh and winger Gregory Nelson. It also signalled a change in shape as Chennaiyin lined up in a 4-2-3-1 with Jeje upfront, Bikramjit and Ganesh sitting deep in midfield.

North-East United FC coach Joao de Deus opted to stick with the same team that drew 0-0 at home to Jamshedpur in their opening game. Lalrindika Ralte, Marcinho and Adilson Goiano were deployed in midfield while Danilo Lopes spearheaded the attack.

Chennaiyin kicked off proceedings at the Marina Arena but it was the visitors who had the first chance on goal. Danilo chased a long ball from midfield into the Chenaniyin box, only for Karanjit to come rushing and get the ball out of the box. However, he tried a fancy pass from outside the box instead of clearing it and gifted possession to Seminlen Doungel whose attempt to chip the ball into goal missed by a whisker.

However, at the other end, Chennaiyin were looking sharp. After Francis Fernandes went close with a back-post header, the Marina Machans surged into the lead, courtesy an own goal, in the 11th minute. Odair Fortes lost possession near the half-way line and Raphael Augusto picked up possession and made a run from the left. He was allowed time and space to cut in and the Brazilian attempted a curler aimed at the far corner. But Abdul Hakku's attempted header deflected the shot past a stranded Rehenesh, as the stadium erupted.

The South Indian side, on a high, went close a couple more times with Jeje forcing Goncalves into a last-ditch tackle and then Sereno heading Nelson's corner straight at Rehenesh.

It wasn't long before the Highlanders, at sixes and sevens at the back, conceded again. Bikramjit initiated the move with a high ball into the box that found Gregory Nelson. The Dutchman's header for Jeje was deflected towards Raphael Augusto by Nirmal Chettri and the Brazilian midfielder made no mistake with a sweeping finish which crept under Rehenesh.

NorthEast United, struggling to create chances, made their first change in the 40th minute when Seminlen Doungel was brought off for Halicharan Narzary. Interestingly, Odair Fortes, who was injured after being at the receiving end of a crunching tackle from Sereno, was also taken off before the half-time whistle for Colombian forward Luis Alfonso Paez.

It also signalled a change in shape for NorthEast, with Didika going to the wing and Paez slotting in behind Danilo. However, they were unable to force a goal back before the break.

Neither team made any changes at the start of the second half, the first chance of which fell to NorthEast when they received a freekick 30 yards from goal. Marcinho's fizzing effort cleared the bar only by inches.

Ganesh received the first booking of the game in the 54th minute when he barged Marcinho. However, Marcinho himself picked one up when he went in with his elbow on Ganesh minutes later.

Though NorthEast were controlling possession in their bid to find a way back into the tie, it was Chennaiyin who went closest to a goal, in the 64th minute. After Mailson's long freekick was spilt by Rehenesh, Jeje chipped a cross from the byline for Raphael Augusto who just could not direct his header on target.

The home team then were forced into a change, after the impressive Bikramjit went off injured with Germanpreet Singh taking his place.

The home team continued to threaten, despite seeing less of the ball and were handed another opportunity to extend their lead when Hakku clumsily brought down Jeje on the edge of the box. However, Jerry Lalrinzuala's free-kick couldn't breach the NorthEast wall.

Former ATK player Jaime Gavilan got a run out for Chennaiyin when he was introduced for Raphael Augusto who walked off to a rapturous ovation from the home crowd.

Halicharan Narzary had a couple of hopeful cracks at goal as the match wore on but that was about it for NorthEast United who found it tough to breach the home team's defence.

Article continues below

Instead, it was NorthEast United's goal which was breached in the 84th minute when Chennaiyin FC were awarded a freekick on the edge of the box after Gregory Nelson was fouled by Hakku.

Gavilan's superb effort came back off the bar and popped up after striking a diving Rehenesh on the head. Mohammed Rafi, who had replaced Jeje Lalpekhlua, was alert to the chance and headed the ball in.

That effectively put paid to any slim hopes the visitors harboured of making a late comeback as Chennaiyin saw the game out comfortably and recorded their first-ever win over NorthEast United FC at home. 

Comments ()