NorthEast United did a second “double”, defeating Chennaiyn FC 2-1 in an incident-filled match at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Wednesday. NEUFC had beaten Atletico de Kolkata home and away earlier in this edition.
Materrazi, who learnt a harsh lesson at Guwahati by relegating both Stiven Mendoza and Elano Blumer to substitutes’ bench, started with his pair of predators on Wednesday.
The first few minutes of the game had all the ingredients of a pot-boiler; Thoi Singh initiated a brilliant move, releasing Stiven Mendoza on the right flank. The Colombian sent a low cross into the box, but the move fizzled out with the pass finding the opposition player.
NorthEast started the counter-attack from just outside the box with skipper Simao Sabrosa playing a neat exchange with Diomansy Kamara and pouring forward.
But the move was intercepted by Meharjuddin Wadoo, who hit a long ball towards left-winger Balwant Singh. NorthEast’s Reagen Singh and Balwant leapt high for possession but the latter elbowed the defender and blood oozed out of Reagen.
All this happened inside four minutes. Then rain took over and cooled down the proceedings. Play was stopped in the 25th minute.
After the break, Elano Blumer was at the heart of everything positive for the host and he slotted home Chennaiyin’s opening goal with a scorcher.
In the 33rd minute, Wadoo sent a cross to Mendoza but it found Carlos Lopez, who headed a cross away from the penalty area but the ball found the Brazilian.
After the goal, NEUFC played with great energy. The equaliser came when Bruno Arias’s whipping cross was met by Kamara behind the CFC’s defence. Eder Bete stopped the header, but the Frenchman picked the rebound and slotted it home.
CFC was coping well enough until it hiccupped over a poorly defended cross. But it could have gone ahead before the interval.
Mendoza showed some excellent dribbling qualities before taking the ball forward and struck nicely, but the NorthEast goalkeeper was equal to the task.
The game was finely poised. In the second half, Elano continued to dominate, receiving the ball under pressure before playing a simple pass. His work in advanced positions was always purposeful.
The attacking pattern continued with Mendoza rapid in pouring forward, while Raphael Augusto orchestrated it all.
Despite laying siege to the NEUFC goal, CFC couldn’t find the target to gain the crucial three points.
But NEUFC coach, soaking up the pressure, made a game-changing substitution in the 70th minute, bringing in Silas for Simao Sabrosa.
Silas made an instant impact, scoring from inside the box. He controlled the ball wonderfully well and set himself for the shot.
CFC struggled to formulate a response with Farias making a defensive substitution, snuffing out any chance of a comeback.
Chennaiyin FC 1 (Elano 33) lost to NorthEast United FC 2 (Kamara 44, Silas 72).