East Bengal sinks further as they go down 1-0 against Chennaiyin

Vafa Hakhamaneshi scored the decisive goal

Chennaiyin handed East Bengal a 1-0 defeat in the second fixture of matchday 5 of the 2022-23 Indian Super League season, at the Salt Lake Stadium on Friday. Vafa Hakhamaneshi scored the solitary goal of the match.

Chennaiyin head coach Thomas Brdaric made one change to his starting XI following a 0-2 defeat against Goa. Goalkeeper Debjit Majumder returned after serving his one-game suspension, replacing Devansh Dabas.

On the contrary, East Bengal head coach Stephen Constantine opted to field an unchanged starting XI for this fixture, though in their last fixture, his team suffered a 0-2 defeat against ATK Mohun Bagan in the Kolkata Derby.

Though the Marina Machans dominated possession right from the beginning, the game had a sedate start. It took 10 minutes for the first chance of the game to arrive when Chennaiyin skipper Anirudh Thapa found Petar Sliskovic inside the box with a delightful ball. The Croatian striker, however, could only find the woodwork with his strike.

It was Brdaric’s men who looked in complete control of the game, but totally against the run of play, East Bengal had a gilt-edged chance in the 21st minute. Cleiton Silva played an inch-perfect through ball that found VP Suhair one-on-one with Debjit, but the winger dragged his shot wide.

Just after the half-hour mark, Aakash Sangwan opened his box of tricks to nutmeg Sarthak Golui and then find Sliskovic with the cross, but once again, the former Mainz 05 striker’s attempt was not on target.

The chances kept on pouring for Chennaiyin and they almost took the lead in the 34th minute of the match. After receiving a pass from the left flank, Thapa launched a powerful shot, but East Bengal’s custodian Kamaljit Singh made an excellent save.

The Torchbearers had yet another opportunity a couple of minutes later, and it was the best chance of the game. Trying to play a back pass to his goalkeeper, Hakhamaneshi stumbled, leaving Silva one-on-one with Debjit with all the time in the world. However, the Brazilian marksman could not keep his shot on target.

In the 40th minute, Ajith Kumar launched a cross into the box that found Rahim Ali, but the young striker’s headed attempt did not trouble Kamaljit, meaning both teams failed to score in the first half.

The second half started just like the first, with Chennaiyin enjoying the lion’s share of ball possession. The first chance came only five minutes after the resumption when East Bengal failed to properly deal with a corner and the ball fell to Ali, but the local lad could not open the scoring for the away side.

Four minutes later, a throw from Thapa found Prasanth Karuthadathkuni inside the box and the winger was quick to get a shot in, but yet again, Kamaljit came to his team’s rescue. Just before the hour-mark, the Torchbearers had a rare opportunity when Silva chested down a Jerry Lalrinzuala cross for Charalampos Kyriakou, but the Croatia international’s shot was not on target.

Chennaiyin had yet another opportunity in the 63rd minute when Ali played a pass into the box for Sliskovic, but before the latter could pull the trigger, Kamaljit came out to clear the danger. However, replays showed there was certainly contact between the keeper and a striker, and it could have resulted in a penalty in the Marina Machans’ favour.

However, Brdaric’s team did not have to wait long for the goal, which came in the 69th minute. Sangwan’s brilliant in-swinging corner found Hakhamaneshi at the near post, and the Iranian’s head was too powerful for any East Bengal player to deal with.

The next few minutes produced two red cards – Chennaiyin’s Hakhamaneshi and East Bengal’s Golui were given marching orders. In the 84th minute, a cross from Jerry was met with by Himanshu Jangra, but his header was easily collected by Debjit. This proved to be the last chance of the match.

With this win, Chennaiyin climbed to the fifth position with six points. Their next match is against Mumbai City next Saturday, while East Bengal, who is now in 10th position with three points, will be up against Bengaluru on Friday.