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ISL 2018: Tactical Chennaiyin FC rally to hold FC Goa in first leg semi-finals

FC Goa scored first but the hosts were out-thought by a calm Chennaiyin FC to be held 1-1 in the first leg semi-final of the Indian Super League.

football Updated: Mar 11, 2018 10:31 IST
Rajesh Pansare
Rajesh Pansare
Hindustan Times, Margao
ISL 2018,Chennaiyin FC,FC Goa
Jerry Lalrinzuala of Chennaiyin FC takes a free kick during the second semi-final1st leg of the Indian Super League against FC Goa at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Saturday.(ISL)

While FC Goa dominated the proceedings, it was Chennaiyin FC who walked away smiling as they held the hosts 1-1 in the first leg of their semifinal in the Indian Super League (ISL) at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Saturday. (Chennaiyin FC vs FC Goa highlights)

Chennaiyin’s equaliser in the 71st minute, after a patient build-up from the midfield, saw Gregory Nelson feed substitute Anirudh Thapa, who stayed calm with defenders converging on him to slot home between goalkeeper Laxmikant Kattimani’s legs.

Six minutes earlier, Goa had opened their account through their best player on the field, Manuel Lanzarote.

The Spaniard was the one who started the move on the right flank and his perfect pass found Mandar Rao Dessai, who managed to beat Inigo Calderon on the left flank and cut back. The melee that followed saw Lanzarote tap in, giving Goa the edge.

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Goa could have gone a couple of goals down at the start of the second half but for Kattimani, who first stopped Jeje Lalpekhlua and then blocked Gregroy Nelson’s strike.

Chennaiyin, undefeated on the road in the last four matches, again showed that they can withstand the best of attacks as they made sure Lanzarote and Ferran Corominas didn’t have an opportunity to combine too often.

Their centre-backs Malison Alves and skipper Henrique Sereno stood tall as they have always this season to nullify the attacking threat possessed by Goa. In front of them, Raphael Augusto and Dhanpal Ganesh were brilliant as well.

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Chennaiyin’s strategy to crowd the centre and force Goa to go wide worked perfectly as the crosses that came in were neatly tucked away by the tall centre backs. What that also did was not allow Lanzarote and Corominas to link up as they have done so often this season.


When Goa did manage to bisect the backline, it was their touch that let them down. Corominas was the guilty party twice, on either side of the break, and couldn’t add to his season’s tally of 18 goals.

First, he took an extra touch after finding himself in open space in the box and that allowed Chennaiyin defenders to swoop in on him. The second time, his touch let him down after he found himself free in the box. The ball rolled away from him and the tighter angle made it difficult to shoot from.

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Apart from his goal, Lanzarote too cut a lonely figure in the midfield. While he did see a lot of the ball, he didn’t produce too many opportunities due to Chennaiyin crowding the midfield and deny the chance to produce that perfect pass.

The second leg in Chennai will be played on Tuesday.

First Published: Mar 10, 2018 22:57 IST