The Delhi Dynamos rebounded from their opening match loss to notch their first victory of this year’s Indian Super League (ISL) campaign in a 1-0 win over Chennaiyin FC in New Delhi on Thursday.
The Dynamos won in front of a disappointing crowd at the Jawaharlal Nehru (JLN) Stadium, with defender Anderson Cardoso netting the match-winning goal from a penalty in the eighth minute. The Dynamos lost their first match of the tournament away against FC Goa 0-2, while Chennaiyin were beaten 2-3 at home by title holders Atletico de Kolkata. Dynamos now have three points from two matches while Chennaiyin are yet to get a point after two defeats.
Dynamos identified the need to get a quick start in their first home match and began in right earnest. They plotted their attacks predominantly from the left side where nippy Brazilian Gustavo Dos Santos, one of the few positives in their otherwise disappointing inaugural campaign last year, was lively. He danced his way to the left byline after evading a couple of defenders and created the first goal in the eighth minute.
His cut-back pass initially found no one inside the box, but was met with a strong shot by an advancing Hans Mulder, whose shot was blocked by Manuele Blasi. Referee Tejas Nagvenkar promptly directed to the spot from where Cardoso scored.
The goal settled Dynamos’ nerves and helped them to take control of the action.
They could have doubled their lead in the 31st minute had Ghanaian forward Richard Gadze’s forceful shot, after beating three defenders on the run, not been saved by goalkeeper Edel Bete Apoula, diving to his left on the near post.
But just when it looked like the home team would build on from the initial ascendancy, Chennaiyin reminded them of staying true at the back, three minutes later. A momentary lapse of concentration by defender Anas Edathodika, who lost control of the ball, just outside the penalty area, allowed Colombian forward Steven Mendoza to unleash a left-footer that thundered off the cross bar, in what was a big relief for the hosts.
Chennaiyin’s attackers, who hadn’t quite performed as a unit in the first session, showed signs of learning from their mistakes after the play resumed. They began to stitch together meaningful moves and tried utilising their wingers, looking to stretch the opposition defenders.Their ploy could have yielded instant gratification had the home-grown Balwant Singh headed into the net from six yards, off a right-sided centre, in the 52nd minute. But an unmarked Balwant directed his effort wide.
Both teams tried to go on the offensive, but the second half action never really got going as the ball mostly rolled around in the midfield zone. Chennaiyin had more possession but couldn’t convert that supremacy into clear-cut chances as time went by, against a Dynamos defence that kept its shape, unlike in the match against FC Goa.
Chennayin manager, Italian World Cup winning defender Marco Materazzi, tried to infuse more energy and purpose to their offensive play, bringing in Brazilian midfielder Bruno Pelissari in place of marquee man Elano Blumer, but it didn’t prove to be an inspired change.
Roberto Carlos, another celebrated defender in his heydays, identified the rearguard mistakes committed by his team in the previous match and got enough players behind the ball determined not be caught off-guard. They were successful in that, which would make Carlos glad and give him confidence ahead of four consecutive away matches.