When Delhi Dynamos journeyed down south to take on Chennaiyin FC, it was expected to be an easy fixture for the 2015 champions. Not only were the visitors coming off a six-game losing streak, the home team had been enjoying a strong first half of the season.
Though Chennaiyin went a goal down early on, they rallied to take the lead and looked set to notch all three points on Sunday but for a defensive lapse at the very end which cost them. Miguel Portugal, who had a cut a helpless figure in the Delhi dugout, was able to heave a sigh of relief as his side eked out a point which brought to an end their miserable losing streak.
But for most of the second half, it looked like it would be a seventh straight loss for Delhi Dynamos, who after some early enterprise at the start of the first half, had fallen flat because of their own defensive blunders.
Both goals scored by Chennaiyin FC came from basic errors from Delhi, with Pratik Chowdhary being the main culprit while at the other end, Dhanachandra Singh, filling in for the suspended Henrique Sereno, was the weak link in the Chennaiyin FC defence.
It was Dhanachandra who was at fault for Delhi's opening goal. Chennaiyin FC were a bit loose in possession in the first half, giving Delhi's pacy forward line comprising of David Ngaihte, Lallianzuala Chhangte who was playing in a central role, Nandhakumar and Romeo Fernandes opportunities to run at them.
After Nelson lost the ball cheaply in Delhi's half, one long ball from Lumu was all it took to get Delhi's counter-attack going. Chhangte fed Nandha who sent in a superb cross for Ngaihte to head in with a back-pedalling Chennaiyin defence all at sea. Dhanachandra was particularly at fault, as he failed to track Ngaihte's run into the box.
However, Chennaiyin's Slovenian attacking midfielder Rene Mihelic showed his prowess in set-piece situations with a brilliant delivery for Jeje a bit later. Delhi Dynamos, who have conceded quite a few goals through set-pieces this season, showed that they have not learnt their lessons by not getting tight to Jeje inside the box. The fact that the 6'2" tall Pratik Chowdhary could not thwart the 5'8" Jeje who did not even leap much to glance the ball in tells the story.
Spurred on by that goal, Chennaiyin pressed hard at the start of the second half and took the lead again as Delhi looked amateurish in defence. It was just too easy for Germanpreet, who had plenty of space outside the box, to pick out Jeje inside the box. The clever striker sold Pratik the dummy once again with a brilliant turn and finished expertly. That goal just looked too easy to score in a top-tier professional league, puttting Delhi's defesive organisation under the spotlight.
While Miguel Portugal must be credited for putting some physical presence into the attack with the introductions of Kalu Uche and Guyon Fernandez, Chennaiyin FC were not really threatened and looked in control of the game, but for a lapse in concentration towards the end.
The Super Machans did not press for a third goal and sat back on their one-goal lead, a very dangerous thing to do. And they were punished when Germanpreet gave awaya cheap foul. The delivery into the box was cleared but Dhanachandra failed to track Uche who laid off the ball which was hooked back into the box for Guyon to tap in the equaliser.
Chennaiyin FC have been conceding late on for quite a while now. They did so against ATK but were bailed out by Jeje who scored an even later winner. But the late goals have cost them four points against Kerala Blasters and now Delhi Dynamos.
Assistant coach Sabir Pasha claimed after the match that fitness was not the issue but the problem a lack of focus throughout the ninety minutes. Chennaiyin need to address the issue as soon as possible while Delhi Dynamos will be happy with that point and will possibly hope for an upturn in fortunes.