Goals in each half by Michael Soosairaj (41') and Charles De Souza (90+4') gave Chennai City a 2-0 win over Minerva Punjab at the Guru Nanak Stadium, Punjab, on Saturday evening.
Returning from the four-week break, both teams had two changes each in their starting lineups. Surinder Singh brought in Kamalpreet Singh and Altamash Sayed who were replaced by David Ngaithe and Fanai Lalrempuia in the second half for the home side. For the visitors, V. Soundararajan started with Edwin Vanspaul and Lalnunmawia in place of Marcos Thank and injured Nandhakumar.
Minerva were the better team in the opening minutes, pressing Chennai high up, making sure their defence do not hold more of the ball. In one such instance, Moinuddin Khan dribbled past the rival midfield but his ambitious attempt at goal failed to trouble Karanjit Singh in goal.
Meanwhile, Loveday Enyinnaya held the hosts' fort well against the daunting runs of Charles. The Minerva defender also found the confidence to surge into the attack, though one of his passes for Moinuddin was too close to the Chennai goalkeeper.
Then came the first goal, against the run of play, as Charles' simple square pass for Soosairaj saw Sang-Min Kim lag behind as the Chennai midfielder cut past Arnab Das Sharma and slotted home to give Chennai City the lead in the 41st minute.
Meanwhile, Karanjit was kept busy on the evening, and did well to keep a clean sheet, particularly doing well to prevent Kareem Nurain's lob for Victor Amobi in a counter move and then pulling off a save off a shot at goal by Amobi around the hour mark.
With nothing working in Minerva's favour, who won only one game at home over two months ago, Surinder Singh introduced his last change in Manandeep Singh in the 68th minute. The former India junior international didn't take long to rack a shot at goal but it ended up as a comfortable save for Karanjit.
Minerva were forced to play a few minutes with 10 men after Loveday had to be taken off the field owing to an injury while Ngaithe's knock brought worries of the side being reduced to nine men on the pitch, though the latter managed to resume.
As the game went into four minutes of added time, Soosairaj returned the favour for Charles to convert at the fag end of the game to seal the first away win for the visitors.
As a result of the win, Chennai City now have 16 points from 15 games while Minerva Punjab have 12 points from as many outings.