CHENNAIYIN FC beat FC Goa 3 – 0 in the second leg of the second semi-final of Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2017-18 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai on Tuesday. They progressed to the final with a 4 – 1 aggregate victory after Jeje Lalpekhlua put his goal drought behind him with a brace, while Dhanpal Ganesh grabbed the other.
Goa started with intent, and the fifth minute saw Mandar Rao Dessai cut back the ball from the by-line, and while Chennaiyin defender Jerry Lalrinzuala kicked it away for a corner, it came dangerously close to being an own goal.
From the resulting corner, Sergio Juste’s glancing header just about flashed across the face of the goal. Five minutes later, Hugo Boumous squared a ball for Mandar to hit, but the latter’s shot was saved by Chennaiyin custodian Karanjit Singh before Henrique Sereno cleared the ball away.
Then with a quarter of an hour gone, Manuel Lanzarote stepped up for a free-kick which was tipped away by Karanjit at full stretch. The home team then missed a glorious opportunity to score against the run of play in the 20th minute. Gregory Nelson lifted in a free-kick from the right flank and Jeje somehow put a free header over the crossbar.
However, the Mizo Sniper made amends six minutes later. Nelson swung in a cross from the left this time and Jeje, who was perfectly placed inside the box, put a thumping header past Goa keeper Naveen Kumar. And just three minutes later, Nelson was at it again to help the hosts grab a second. He whipped in a free-kick from the left wing, and Ganesh was present at the far post to head the ball home.
A minute after the half-hour mark, Nelson outfoxed his marker on the left, cut in and hit a stinging shot on target. However, Kumar was alert to make a save at his near post. Three minutes before the break, Mandar latched on to Ferran Corominas’ back heel inside the box and got his strike away. But Karanjit was equal to it with a fine finger-tip save to keep his side’s two-goal advantage intact at the break.
A couple of minutes following restart, Raphael Augusto chested down a clearance and put his laces through a half-volley. The effort though went agonizingly over the bar. The game’s pace slowed down slightly as Goa rarely threatened Karanjit’s goal with the hosts defending well.
With a quarter of an hour to go, Ahmed Jahouh let fly from distance following a Goa counter, but his strike was aimed straight at Karanjit, who palmed the ball over the bar. Four minutes from time, Lanzarote tried to curl in another free-kick into the top-corner, but he was once again denied by a good save from Karanjit.
Jeje then put the game to bed right on 90 minutes, when Jaime Gavilan’s pass deflected off defender Mohamed Ali to put the forward through on goal. And Jeje showed great composure to shake off Ali before calmly slotting the ball past Kumar. It was the last nail in the coffin for the Gaurs as Chennaiyin set up a mouth-watering South-Indian derby against Bengaluru FC in the final of Hero ISL 2017-18.