I-League: Resurgent Chennai City FC deny Mohun Bagan full points
Just when it seemed a brilliant effort from Sony Norde would fetch Mohun Bagan full points and consign Chennai City FC to their first defeat of the season, the I-League leaders were saved by a man called Jesus whose goal helped them end Saturday’s game as the stronger of the teams.
Norde’s 50th minute effort, going past Edwin Vanspaul and Gourav Bora, and wrapping his right boot to a shot that swerved into the top corner, silenced critics who have questioned his fitness and a long injury lay-off. Having controlled the match till the final quarter, Mohun Bagan paid for their exuberance when Chennai City FC central defender Roberto Eslava found Jesus with a raking pass between left-back Abhishek Ambekar, who looked committed to moving up, and central defender Lalchhawankima to make it 1-1 in the 82nd.
Chennai City moved to 17 points from seven games and Mohun Bagan to nine from six.
Mohun Bagan contained the marauding Chennai City FC team that scored 15 goals in six games, nine more than what the hosts managed in five rounds. Kolkata’s big teams are known to be set in their ways so coach Shankarlal Chakraborty deserves credit for getting Mohun Bagan to change their formation to 4-2-3-1 from the usual 4-4-2 in less than one week.
Yuta Kinowaki and Sourav Das shrugged off their effete performance in the 0-3 defeat to Churchill Brothers last Sunday and were responsible in neutralising Chennai City’s Spaniards getting the ball to fizz aorund in the midfield. Omar Elhusseiny too helped by dropping deep. His substitution in the 76th minute had a telling effect on Mohun Bagan’s fortunes.
Dalraj Singh’s woeful performance against Churchill Brothers relegated the central defender to the bench, his place being taken by Lalchhawnkima and with Eze Kingsley and he ensured that Chennai City couldn’t foray down the middle. That contributed to the visitors not getting a clear look on goal till the 74th minute when Sandro Rodrigues’ header crashed into the upright.
But buoyed by the equaliser, Chennai City FC severely tested Roy and could have even gleaned full points had Rodrigues’ drive not thudded into the upright and a Vanspaul piledriver from 30 yards not been too close to the shot-stopper.
Chennai City, who played five Spaniards including goalie Nauzet Santana in the starting line-up, were first tested in the 10th minute by Pintu Mahata who also hit the side-netting in the 39th minute. After a couple of half-chances, they ended the first half with Das testing Santana from distance.
Norde’s goal further buoyed Mohun Bagan. They could have got the insurance goal when Norde made space for Ambekar to overlap and find Amey Ranawade who made a strong run but couldn’t keep the effort on target. Chennai City needed something special to make this game count and the Eslava-Jesus combination was just that.