Chennaiyin FC were held to a 0-0 draw by Kerala Blasters FC at the GMC Stadium in Bambolim in an Indian Super League encounter on Sunday evening. Chennaiyin FC created the bulk of the chances, including winning a penalty in the second half that striker Jakub Sylvestr failed to convert. The result pushes the two-time champions to third place in the table, level on four points with NorthEast United FC in second.
Head Coach Csaba Laszlo named an unchanged starting eleven from the opening night victory over Jamshedpur FC earlier in the week. Defender Eli Sabia made his 50th ISL appearance as midfielders Dhanpal Ganesh and Abhijit Sarkar featured among the substitutes; this the latter’s first matchday involvement at the club.
Hosts Chennaiyin FC were quick off the blocks, finding joy on the wings with full-backs Reagan Singh and Chhuantea Fanai linking up well with the likes of Lallianzuala Chhangte and Isma up top.
What particularly stood out was the pressing from Chennaiyin’s forward line when Kerala Blasters were on the ball. On two separate instances, Isma put Kerala goalkeeper Albino Gomes under pressure, with the second opportunity almost resulting in a goal as a clearance stopped Rafael Crivellaro from tapping it into an empty net.
Sylvestr then had a goal chalked off for offside as the Marina Machans created a few half chances from corner kicks. The tempo was being controlled by Chennaiyin FC as they kept winning the ball back in the Kerala Blasters half. And when the visitors tried to go long, Chennaiyin FC’s defensive line was equal to the task.
A substitution was forced upon Chennaiyin when left-back Chhuantea Fanai was replaced by Jerry Lalrinzuala just before the break through injury.
After the break, Kerala did have more of the ball but Chennaiyin continued to look threatening going forward. The telling ball in the final third was lacking, as Tajikistan winger Fatkhulo Fatkhulloev came on for Isma before the hour mark. He stung Gomes’ gloves with a free-kick just outside the area after Rahul KP had handled Chhangte’s shot from close range.
Chennaiyin FC’s pressure did pay off when Crivellaro was fouled in the Kerala Blasters box with 15 minutes to go. Up stepped Sylvestr but his penalty was saved well by Gomes to his left.
Germanpreet Singh and Memo Moura came on in the closing stages for Crivellaro and Chhangte, but there was no change to the scoreline as it finished a stalemate.
Chennaiyin FC can make a quick reprieve for the missed chances when they take on rivals Bengaluru FC on Friday, December 4 in a home tie at the GMC Stadium, Bambolim.