A VALIANT COMEBACK EFFORT in the second half by the struggling Chennaiyin FC fell short of getting them a point against FC Goa, who won a 3-4 goalfest to rise to the top of the table.
In what was one of the fieriest match of the Indian Super League 2019-20 season, Chennaiyin FC, boosted by their recent win over Kerala Blasters, hosted a high flying FC Goa in an effort to get out of the bottom three.
But at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai, it was the Gaurs who turned up the heat earlier, led by their French medio Hugo Boumous.
About halfway into the first half, it was Boumous who set up Ahmed Jahouh for the first goal of the game. 40 minutes in, Goa's own Brandon Fernandes found the net. And for good measure, Boumous got his own name on the scoresheet in the added time before the break.
At half time, the visitors went into the tunnel with a 0-3 lead and for Chennaiyin FC, who were on a 4 game unbeaten run under new head coach Owen Coyle, there seemed little hope of getting back in the game.
Yet that's what they did in the second half. Jerry Lalrinzuala was replaced by the NEROCA original Tondonba Singh at the start of the second half. That coupled with a zeal for a strong comeback saw the hosts start to turn things around.
Near the hour mark, Andre Schembri found the net for Chennaiyin FC. Just two minutes later, Valskis set up Crivellaro for their second goal. Suddenly CFC were riding their most dominant wave of attacks of the season yet and getting even seemed to be within their grasp.
But unfortunately, only minutes later, Boumous and Coro pulled off one of their famous combo moves that saw the latter get the fourth goal for FC Goa, restoring a two goal cushion to see out the rest of the match.
Towards the end of the game in added time, Thapa helped Crivellaro score the third goal for Chennaiyin; but it proved to be too late to alter the fate of the match. FC Goa walked away with all three points.
Watch the highlights of the match right here courtesy the ISL youtube channel...
The victory takes FC Goa to 21 points from 10 matches; a three point lead at the top of the table, courtesy a 4 match winning streak. In their next outing on 3rd January they'll face Bengaluru FC at Kanteerava; so keeping up that momentum will be difficult but if they pull it off, it will solidify their position as league leaders.
Chennaiyin FC, meanwhile, will feel unlucky to not take at least a point from this match. After 9 games, they are on 9 points; presently 8th on the table. But unlike the teams placed around them, they have not only shown renewed consistency in recent matches, but also showed a valiant comeback effort and dominated parts of the match against one of the toughest teams in ISL. So despite a loss, Owen Coyle and his boys will look to take away a good few positives from this crucial game; and look to convert that motivation into points when they take on Odisha FC away from home on 6th January.