Chennaiyin ends winless streak with a 2-0 win over East Bengal

Rahim Ali scored Chennaiyin’s second goal

Chennaiyin finally ended their eight-game unbeaten streak in the 2022-23 Indian Super League season, as they handed East Bengal a 2-0 defeat here in Chennai’s Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. A Lalchungnunga own goal and a Rahim Ali strike comprised Marina Machans’ two goals.

Chennaiyin head coach Thomas Brdaric made three changes to the team that suffered a 1-2 defeat in the Southern Derby against Kerala Blasters. Vafa Hakhamaneshi, Ninthoinganba Meetei, and Petar Sliskovic were replaced by Fallou Diagne, Ajith Kumar, and Kwame Karikari respectively.

On the other hand, East Bengal head coach Stephen Constantine made four tweaks to his starting XI after a 3-3 draw against NorthEast United. Sarthak Golui, VP Suhair, Mobashir Rahman, and Jordan O’Doherty were handed starts at the expense of Mohamad Rakip, Sumeet Passi, Souvik Chakrabarti, and Alex Lima respectively.

Chennaiyin looked bright from the start and could have taken the lead in the third minute itself. A precise corner from Aakash Sangwan found Diagne unmarked and the Senegalese central defender did well to get a shot in. Unfortunately, his effort struck the crossbar and stayed out.

Julius Duker outclassed Jordan O’Doherty in the midfield battle

Julius Duker outclassed Jordan O’Doherty in the midfield battle

The Marina Machans kept on piling the pressure and had a gilt-edged chance in the 18th minute. A long ball from the deep by skipper Anirudh Thapa found Vincy Barretto completely unmarked. The winger made a darting run and also did well to nutmeg the Torchbearers’ goalkeeper, Kamaljit Singh, but then failed in the final step and dragged his shot wide.

East Bengal had their first chance just after the half-hour mark, but it was a chance from where they should have scored. After receiving a pass from Cleiton Silva, Jake Jervis set Suhair free on the right flank, but the winger could only find the side netting with his effort.

The chance helped the Torchbearers gain some momentum, as they had another chance just five minutes later. A long ball from Naorem Mahesh Singh split open the entire Chennaiyin defense and found Jervis one-on-one with the Marina Machans’ custodian, Samik Mitra, but the Englishman could not keep his shot on target.

However, it was not the last chance of the first half. Just before the lemon break, Mahesh proved to be instrumental yet again as he delivered an accurate cross inside the box. While Jervis did well to jump highest and get his head to the ball, he could not guide his attempt on target.

After being pegged back in the second period of the first half, Chennaiyin had a great start to the second half and had a glorious opportunity in the 47th minute. After receiving a miss pass from O’Doherty, Thapa found Karikari inside the box who laid the pass for Ali. The young striker had the entire goal gaping, but he could not get any connection on the ball.

But it did not matter much, as the goal eventually came in the very next minute. A quickly taken free-kick saw Julius Duker setting Thapa free on the left flank, who then whipped in a dangerous cross for Karikari. Lalchungnunga tried his best to get to the ball ahead of the Ghanaian striker but ended up kicking the ball into his own net.

Brdaric’s team had a superb chance of doubling their advantage just seven minutes later when Kamaljit slipped while taking a goal kick and ended up giving the ball to Barretto. However, just like he did in the first half, the 23-year-old let the chance go begging.

It simply was not Barretto’s day today, as he missed another chance in the 67th minute. Diagne found Karikari with a long diagonal, who tried to find a fellow player in blue with a header. While his attempt was cleared, the rebound fell to Barretto who dragged his shot wide for the third time on the bounce.

However, after a series of missed chances, the second goal finally arrived in the 87th minute. Barretto was in the thick of things again as a pass from deep found himself one-on-one with Kamaljit, but this time, the East Bengal goalkeeper did well to come off his line and clear the danger. The rebound then fell for Edwin Sydney Vanspaul, who slotted a pass for Ali, with the latter then rounding past Kamaljit before slotting the ball home.  

Despite the win, Chennaiyin remains in the eighth position with 21 points from 18 matches. They will now take on Goa on Thursday, while East Bengal, who remains ninth with 16 points from 18 matches, will be up against Mumbai City on Sunday.