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Rafael Crivellaro & Nerijus Valskis keeping Chennaiyin's faint top-four hopes alive?

08:15 SAST 2020/01/11
Crivellaro Chennaiyin
Against a Hyderabad team that has gaping holes in defence, Chennaiyin's frontmen delivered a vital win for Owen Coyle...

Chennaiyin FC might just have rekindled any faint hopes of reaching the Indian Super League (ISL) play-offs after a comprehensive 3-1 win over Hyderabad FC on Friday.

With 12 points from 11 matches, they are four points off fourth-placed Mumbai City FC and with seven games remaining, the task does not look impossible right now. They might be able to do it or they might not be.

However, the outlook is not grim right now and much of that has had to do with the positivity that has engulfed the club after Owen Coyle took over in December from John Gregory. The upturn in form under Coyle has been driven by Nerijus Valskis and Rafael Crivellaro who have been among the goals and assists of late.

Valskis has now scored seven goals and three assists this season while Rafael Crivellaro has three strikes to his name apart from three more assists. And the two were again involved heavily at the GMC Balayogi Athletic stadium as Hyderabad floundered yet again.

While Valskis has shouldered the bulk of scoring, what makes the attack tick is Rafael. When he finds space and time on the ball, Chennaiyin create a truckload of chances and Phil Brown's Hyderabad found that out the hard way.

Hyderabad's midfield looked almost clueless, with only Marko Stankovic toiling hard. They just left too much spaces for the likes of Rafael to exploit and their defence did not cover themselves in glory either. Young fullback Asish Rai's poor backpass led to the first goal scored by Rafael and the other two goals were also easy pickings for Chennaiyin.

Valskis came up with two brilliant finishes as well, one with his right foot and another with his left, to show that he is much more than just a target man.

However, Coyle will be disappointed that his team could not keep a cleansheet against a listless Hyderabad outfit. Eli Sabia's amateurish attempt to intercept a long-ball helped Marcelinho score a goal late on. However, Sabia's partner Lucian Goian was not at his best either. The Romanian was seen flying into tackles unnecessarily, disrupting the team's defensive organisation. Thankfully, against Hyderabad who saw their striker Bobo taken off with a hamstring injury, it did not cost the team.

Hyderabad look more like a collection of players rather than a team. It is no wonder that the team has zero cleansheets this season. At this rate, they stand a good chance of finishing the season without one.

Brown was seen racking his brains on the touchline to spark a reaction from the team. It seems to be an impossible job for now.

Chennaiyin have an important three points at the end of the day. However, they must realise that it came against a team who are fast turning into the whipping boys of the league. So, these points might not make much of a difference in the top-four race unless they pick up a string of wins against stronger teams as well.