Chennai City’s Jean Michael Joachim registered his name on the score-sheet in the fifth minute but his strike was cancelled out by Minerva Punjab’s William Opoku (48’) and Kassim Aidara (59’) who ensured that the hosts walked out with three points at the end of an entertaining fixture at the Guru Nanak Stadium.
The hosts lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation with 22-year-old Girik Mahesh Khosla, Ghanaian William Opoku Asiedu and Bhutan-born stalwart Chencho Gyeltshen forming the midfield; Lago Dogbo Bei operated as the lone striker up-front. As for the visitors, V Soundararajan put up a team which opted for a 4-4-1-1 formation with local lad Soosai Raj operating just behind France-born Jean Michael Joachim.
The men in green had the perfect start to the night as they registered the opening goal in the fourth minute. After Edwin Vanspaul took the free-kick for Chennai City, Murilo Ribeiro volleyed it for Jean Michael Joachim, who, from a close distance, sent the delivery past custodian Arshdeep Singh.
Just ten minutes later, Minerva Punjab had the chance to level things up when Abhishek Ambekar, from the left-wing, made his way into the centre just at the edge of the opposition’s box. The defender crossed the ball for the Bhutanese attacker Chencho who slid his foot towards the target but Veniamin Shumeiko came off his line to avert the danger.
The proceedings turned slower post this which saw the home side struggling to find the the equalising goal. Khogen Singh made a tactical change minutes before halftime by introducing Amandeep Singh in place of Souvik Das which allowed Kassim Aidara to play in a free role. However, the visiting side’s midfield was more in control of the game which meant that they walked off with a 0-1 score-line in their favour at the halftime break.
Minerva Punjab came out of the blocks quickly after the interval. They were rewarded with this change of attitude in the 48th minute when William struck from 10 yards out from a rebound to equalize the game. 11 minutes later Minerva took the lead in 59th minute through Kassim’s diving header. He dived full length ahead of his marker to head the ball inside the six-yard box giving no chance to the keeper.
In the 69th minute, Edwin Vanspaul’s free-kick found Murilo Ribeiro inside Minerva Punjab’s box; the Brazilian headed the delivery towards the top-right corner of the goal but an alert Arshdeep Singh palmed it away.
Failing to get themselves near to another goal, Chennai City bowed down to Minerva Punjab at the end of the fixture as the Ranjit Bajaj-owned outfit bagged three points to go on top of the points table.