A cool & composed penalty from 35-year old, Achille Emana sealed a crucial win for the Islanders at the Mumbai Football Arena. The victory ended Chennaiyin FC’s 3 match winning run and moved us to the 5th spot in the table.
The game started on a high tempo with the Islanders winning a corner & free-kick in the first 5 minutes of the game, the visitors held firm & cleared away. Davinder Singh was shown another early yellow card as he bought down Jude Nworuh on the edge of the box, the resulting free-kick from Mihelic was straight at the wall.
The first real chance of the game came to Everton Santos after Gerson Vieira found him in the box with a good cross from the left but his header was straight at Karanjit in goal. Chennaiyin FC took time to settle in & created a glorious opportunity at the half hour mark as Jude played a superb cross to look for Mohammed Rafi who somehow missed his header right in front of the goal. The Islanders breathed a sigh of relief in what should have been the opening goal of the game.
At the other end, Emana found Rafa Jorda with a brilliant through ball to send him through on goal & beat one defender to get into the box but the defence got back in time to clear the ball away & a chance went begging. In the next attack, Inigo Calderon was shown the yellow card for bringing down Balwant Singh & stopping a counter-attack from the Islanders. Emana was involved once again in the 37th minute as he found Rafa Jorda once again, this time with the help of a dummy from Everton Santos but the return cross from the Spaniard went over the goal.
At the stroke of the half-time, Chennaiyin FC nearly scored the opening goal as Thoi Singh sent an inch-perfect cross to find Rafi & his header was on target but Amrinder Singh was there to make a fins save. Both teams went into the half with a few chances but it remained goalless at the Arena.
The first chance of the second half fell to the visitors as a lovely through ball from Milhelic found Rafi, who took a shot at goal that was saved well by Amrinder Singh but it fell to Thoi Singh & he missed a sitter in front of the goal. A couple of minutes later, Emana’s cross into the box found Rafa Jorda who won his header but Chennaiyin FC cleared it away. The pace of the game had certainly increased with both sides looking to break the deadlock. Abinash Ruidas was the next player to be booked and the resulting free-kick saw Thoi Singh with an opportunity in the box that was once again saved well by Amrinder for a corner.
Captain, Lucian Goian got into the opposition box & went for an acrobatic bicycle kick but failed to connect it well. It would have surely been a goal to witness for the fans. In the 58th minute, Balwant Singh ran at the Chennaiyin FC defence & was brought down by an elbow in the box from Mailson who was shown a yellow card for the offence & the Islanders won a penalty. Up stepped, Achille Emana who slotted the ball to the right of Karanjit as he went to the opposite side. It was a first goal for him in ISL & it came at the right time Alexandre Guimaraes’ men.
Rafi found himself with another opportunity in the box, this time it was a dipping cross from Jerry Lalrinzuala but his header was wide of the goal. Three substitutes were made in the 67th minute, Davinder Singh was replaced by Raju Gaikwad for the Islanders whereas Jeje & Raphael came in for Rafi & Milhelic. Both teams were looking to keep fresh legs on the pitch to look for a second goal in the game.
The visitors were pushing men forward in search of the equaliser but the defence was alert to all sorts of danger & maintained the one goal lead. In the 75th minute, a delicious long ball from Everton Santos from his own half found Rafa Jorda as he made his way into the box as Anirudh Thapa failed to intercept, the striker tried to chip the ball over Karanjit but it went wide of the goal. The Islanders had another opportunity, a free-kick on the edge of the box but Sehnaj Singh went for power & the ball went into the stands.
Thiago Santos was introduced into the game in place of Everton Santos & he nearly made an immediate impact with his first attack of the game. He was at the end of a long ball from Goian & beat his marker to setup Sanju Pradhan but Thoi Singh made a crucial interception & Chennaiyin FC survived. Rafa Jorda had the opportunity to double the lead in the 86th minute, he went for another chip which was on target but straight at Karanjit who held on to the ball comfortably.
2 minutes from normal time, Chennaiyin FC won a free-kick in a dangerous position. Calderon took it, the ball hit the wall that stood strong to deflect it away for a corner. The resulting corner was cleared away by Gerson & the Islanders were holding on to the one-goal lead at the Arena. The last chance of the game fell to the visitors, Jerry put in an inviting cross but Amrinder was alert & collected the ball with ease before the referee blew the full-time whistle.
The Islanders registered their 2nd win at home to maintain our 100% home record courtesy the penalty goal from Achille Emana. Bottom club, ATK visit the Mumbai Football Arena on 17th December for the next ISL encounter.