Chennaiyin FC ended their four-match winless run in Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2020-21 after a 2-1 victory over Odisha FC at the GMC Stadium in Bambolim on Wednesday. Esmael Goncalves netted a first-half brace for Chennaiyin on his return to the starting line-up and substitute Diego Mauricio scored a consolation goal for Odisha in the second period.
Chennaiyin had the first big chance of the game in the 5th minute after a pass from the right side of midfield put Goncalves through on goal. Fortunately for Odisha, Goncalves’ shot failed to test the goalkeeper and flew over the target.
Enes Sipovic could have also given Chennaiyin the lead nine minutes later but his goal-bound volley off a cross from the left was blocked by Odisha’s defence. The Marina Machans did take the lead a minute later though through Goncalves, who latched onto a miss-controlled ball by Gaurav Bora near midfield before running with it into the box and producing a powerful side-foot finish to make it 1-0 for Chennaiyin.
They doubled their lead in the 21st minute after Anirudh Thapa won his team a penalty following an unfair challenge on him in the box by Bora. Goncalves confidently stepped up to take the penalty and dispatched the ball to the bottom right corner to extend the two-time champions’ advantage.
Odisha should have pulled one back in the 37th minute when an improvised pass with his back to goal by Jerry Mawihmingthanga put Manuel Onwu behind Chennaiyin’s defence. The Spaniard though dragged his attempt wide as Chennaiyin kept their 2-0 lead intact heading into the break.
The Bhubaneswar-based club looked to take the contest to Chennaiyin in the second period but the Marina Machans defended in numbers and made it hard for Odisha to create any openings. However, a piece of individual brilliance by halftime substitute Mauricio in the 63rd minute gave Odisha some hope.
The Brazilian attacker received the ball near the halfway line and ran with it towards the opposition box before producing a spectacular curling effort from distance that gave the goalkeeper no chance and halved Chennaiyin’s lead.
Buoyed by Mauricio’s goal, Odisha looked to push forward in search of an equaliser but Chennaiyin defended resolutely to deny Stuart Baxter’s men time and space on the ball. The Marina Machans, in fact, could have killed the game in the 82nd minute when Lallianzuala Chhangte broke with the ball at pace and squared it to substitute Thoi Singh, who just had the goalkeeper to beat. However, Thoi’s shot was disappointing and went behind for a goal-kick.
Odisha responded with a Daniel Lalhlimpuia shot from the edge of the box that forced Chennaiyin’s goalkeeper Vishal Kaith into conceding a corner. Baxter’s men continued to battle till the final whistle, but the southerners maintained their shape and discipline to secure the win.
ISL Media Release