In their last home game before the end of the group stage of the Indian Super League, Chennaiyin FC beat Mumbai City FC 3-0 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai on Tuesday.
The rain-soaked pitch of the ‘Marina Arena’ was hardly good enough to play a game of football but with both teams needing wins to stay in contention for the last play-off spot, the match went ahead after a 10-minute delay. Fortunately for the home team, the poor condition of the pitch worked to their advantage — most controversially in the 17th minute when the ball got stuck in the water in Mumbai City’s six yard box to allow Jeje Lalpekhlua to score Chennaiyin’s second goal of the game after league topscorer Stiven Mendoza scored the opener in the 9th minute. Bernard Mendy scored in the 45th minute to put the game out of the reach of the visitors.
Mumbai City’s marquee player-manager Nicolas Anelka thought the quality of the pitch wasn’t great, particularly in the first half, but thought it was equally problematic to both sides. “It was difficult to play in the beginning but the second half was better...credit to Chennai because they played well in spite of the difficult conditions of the pitch,” said Anelka.
Chennaiyin FC manager Marco Materazzi said, “We did not know about the bad pitch conditions...we were lucky that the worst hit part (in our half) was the corner on the left side.”
With the win, Chennaiyin rose to fourth in the table and strengthened their bid for the final play-off berth. Mumbai, on the other hand, became the second team to be eliminated from the tournament.