In a pulsating Hero Indian Super League (ISL) encounter, Chennaiyin FC edged past hosts Goa FC 2-1 as forward Balwant Singh, who scored for the visitors, became the first Indian goalscorer in the tournament at the Jawahar Lal Nehru stadium, on Wednesday.
Chennaiyin, co-owned by Abhishek Bachchan and Indian cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, went ahead with Balwant etching his name in the history book's with his 32nd minute strike.
They soon doubled their lead, with Elano scoring via a beautiful freekick and the curling strike took his team into half-time, with the score reading 2-0.
Goa, co-owned by Indian cricket star Virat Kohli and coached by Zico, came with renewed vigour after half time but Chennai's defence withstood the home team's initial attacks.
Goa eventually tried to claw their way back into the game as central defender Gregory Arnolin netted a goal from close range.
But the resolute Chennai defence made d their ISL campaign began with a win as they became the first visiting team to register a win.
The highlight though remained on Balwant, who was more than pleased with his effort and his team's performance.
"It is an absolute honour to become the first Indian scorer in the Hero ISL. You always have to work hard to get into the team because there are so many quality foreigners. So I think my hard work paid off. I would like to thank my coaches and family," said Balwant after the win.
Chennai coach Marco Materazzi wal also happy with the outcome and said, "The boys put up good performance and held ball possession after scoring both the goals. In the second half we were faced to the wall but our defenders did a good job to deny the home team the equaliser." Goa's Zico though was disappointed with a losing start but did manage to put up a brave front after the defeat.
"The boys played their hearts out till the end,especially in the second half which they dominated, creating ample of scoring chances but failed to cash on ultimately to end on the loosing side," stated Zico.
"We were not expecting defeat but it all happened, the Marquee player Robert Pires too played well, created few good opening for his striker with delightful passes. The atmosphere was good with the goan crowd supporting up till the end. All the four matches of the first round saw good attendance, its a good begning to see lot of people coming to see the matches," he added.