Chennaiyin FC and NorthEast United shared the spoils in a fiercely competitive Indian Super League encounter that finished 0-0 at the Tilak Maidan on Sunday evening. The result broke Chennaiyin FC’s two-game losing run and handed them a second clean sheet of the season, while NorthEast United FC remained unbeaten in the league.
Head Coach Csaba Laszlo rung in the changes for Chennaiyin FC, who were playing a second game in four days, as skipper Rafael Crivellaro started on the bench. In came Tamil Nadu man Edwin Vanspaul into the midfield as Brazilian Memo Moura made his first start with Bosnian Enes Sipovic out injured. Memo’s compatriot Eli Sabia led the side out for the first time this season.
Lallianzuala Chhangte almost made it 1-0 in the opening minute, bringing a low save out from NorthEast United keeper Gurmeet after being set up by Jakub Sylvestr. Chennaiyin FC were the better team in the opening stages, as Edwin went close from a volley few minutes later with Gurmeet scrambling.
Chennaiyin FC looked lively on the left flank, with Chhangte and left-back Jerry Lalrinzuala linking up to great effect. They were bossing the game with an average of 60% ball possession. At the other end though, NorthEast United won a flurry of corner kicks on the break but couldn’t capitalize from any.
Memo alongside Eli was resolute at the back, doing well a few minutes later to defend a NorthEast United FC chance, first to win the ball off striker Idrissa Sylla, followed by a timely block from Luis Machado’s goal-bound strike. Goalkeeper Vishal Kaith was also solid in his glove work as it finished 0-0 at the interval.
Hosts NorthEast United began the second period better than Chennaiyin FC, despite the first big chance falling to Sylvestr, whose shot hit the side netting after being put through by Chhangte.
Soon after, Vishal made a stunning save from Sylla’s curling goal-bound effort, tipping it over the bar in reflex. Substitute Rochharzela put Sylla through on goal again with a delightful pass few minutes later, however the striker put his effort just wide as Vishal made himself big.
Anirudh Thapa made a return from injury for the final 15 minutes, replacing Edwin who put in a fine display. Defender Eli Sabia had a shot on target with ten minutes to go, but his header from a corner went straight to Gurmeet. Laszlo made two more changes, throwing on Dhanpal Ganesh and Thoi Singh in place of Jakub Sylvestr and Fatkhulo Fatkhulloev respectively. Ganesh was surprisingly played upfront as the target man due to his physical presence and height.
The Chennaiyin FC man almost teed up Thapa with a knock-down few minutes later, but Thoi beat the India midfielder to it, and his shot went wide of the mark.
In the end, it finished 0-0 as NorthEast United FC moved to ten points while Chennaiyin FC remained in eighth spot with five points.
Next up, Chennaiyin FC take on FC Goa at the Fatorda Stadium on Saturday December 19.