The Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium had almost 7,000 people to cheer their home team in the last game of the inaugural editions Chennai leg. The classic battle of attack vs defence was on cards as Falcao’s Chennai 5s took on Michel Salgado’s Kochi 5s.
The home team threw away an early two-goal lead with Kochi 5s mounting a late comeback. Falcao inspired his Chennai side with an early brace as Chennai racked up a 4-2 lead, but his absence was felt as Moraes and Chaguinha inspired Kochi to comeback to 4-4, with Michel Salgado showing why his experience and aggression in leading the Kochi team.
With Chennai coming off the back off a loss to Mumbai in the opening game, the ‘home’ side laid all their hopes at the feet of Falcao, with Michel Salgado standing like a wall for the Kochi 5s. Chennai started off brightly, with Romulo, Falcao and Cirilo going close, with the latter drawing a great reaction save from Kochi keeper Casalone early on.
Those in attendance today witnessed the typical Salgado performance against Chennai. He was seen in all his elements as he was seen arranging his troupes from the back and making those menacing runs which ruffled the Chennai defense several times. Every feisty move from Michel was applauded by a group of Real Madrid fans, who were the nosiest in the last game Premier Futsal’s Chennai leg.
Speaking at the post match conference, Kochi 5’s Coach, Sergio said, “Player to Player was always going to be key against the fast moving Chennai team. I think our defense did well for most parts of the game, before Michel had to come off to nurse a niggle. With 4 points of 2 games, we will put in all our might when we play in Goa.
Deivis Moraes opened the scoring in the 7th minute with a stunning shot, cutting inside from the left and absolutely thundering a shot into the top corner to give Kochi the lead and quell the partisan Chennai crowd. Falcao then decided this was the time to announce himself in the tournament, as he equalized for Chennai with a calm finish after he ended a swift counter to make in 1-1 going into the break.
The home crowd were cheering minutes into the second quarter, as Falcao gave Chennai the lead with an exquisite piece of skill, controlling a pass, turning and shooting into the top corner in a single motion. However, he took the showboating to a needless level later, as Chaguinha pounced on him dallying on the ball in his own half and scored past Espindola to equalize for Kochi.
Falcao made up for his mistake soon after, setting up Cirilo for a tap in with a cross from the right as Chennai took a 3-2 lead going into the third quarter. Falcao went off injured before the start of the third quarter, with Chennai looking hampered as Kochi came back into the game. However, it was Casalone who was the hero for Kochi as he made a number of saves as the third quarter progressed, with freestyler Sean Garnier denied thrice, while delighting the crowd with a few pieces of superb skills.
Speaking about Falcao’s injury that forced him off the pitch early, Romulo said, “It is just a niggle and we are confident that Falcao will shake it off soon and should be ready for the next game in Goa. He is an inspirational captain and the whole Futsal world looks up to him and Premier Futsal and Chennai 5’s are no different. He was clinical today and it was unfortunate he could not complete the game.”
Camilo made the game slightly safe in the 28th minute, although Kochi were incensed as Salgado was fouled but Camilo charged upfield, step overs galore, before slotting the ball home with his right foot, making it 4-2 going into the final quarter.
Chennai were regretting their fouling ways immediately in the fourth quarter, conceding a penalty for their 6th foul of the night. Moraes stepped up and slammed the ball to Espindola’s left bottom corner, leaving the Chennai keeper no chance and bringing Kochi back into the game in the 32nd minute. Chaguinha silenced the Chennai crowd with an equalizer with 5 minutes to go, countering upfield before thundering a rocket of a shot into the top near post, a brilliant solo goal, thus earning the point that looked so unlikely early on.