In fact, Chennaiyin dominated the match from start to finish, ripping apart Mumbai’s defence time and again with barely any effort. The destruction was fuelled by the pace of Jeje Lalpekhlua and Stiven Mendoza and the vision of Elano.
Between Jeje and Mendoza, though, it was Mendoza who deserves all the accolades that anyone can give him while Elano glided, floated, cruised, and almost turned water into wine on the pitch.
The Chennaiyin FC’s First Goal
The first goal came through a penalty from Elano. Mendoza turned into the box from the right flank, side stepping defenders before losing the ball which rolled free. At this point, Friedrich decided to put in a wild swing disguised as a tackle but the referee was having none of it. Friedrich was lucky actually. He could have been sent off because his wild swing was so wild that he banged the knee of Mendoza. Elano, the set piece expert stepped up and side footed the ball to his right at great pace. 1 – 0. This was, by the way, Elano’s fourth goal in four matches.
On the other end, Chennaiyin’s player cum coach Materazzi (the taunt-your-opponent-to-lose-his-head man), along with his cohorts Silvestre and Bernard Mendy, owned the pitch on the other end. They were there for virtually every cross, slide rule pass, and random punt forward from Mumbai (most of their attacks were random punts just so you know). The Chennaiyin keeper seemed to have felt some of the pain that Mumbai was feeling because he actually tried to give them a goal a couple of times by spilling a ball and coming for a cross wrongly.
Mumbai, while entirely dominated, did get a few chances, the pick of which was a Friedrich free header from the penalty spot through an in swinging corner. Another was when Subhash got free only to see Silvestre come across and tackle him soundly. It had to be good too because he was the last man. He never made such tackles for Arsenal, bah!
After this was a period where the match dulled, settled, slowed, and puttered. However, then Raju stepped up and my amusement rose. He reminded me of one Rory Delap from Stoke. His long throw-ins were amusing and so was Raju’s, although his was actually better and stronger than Delap’s used to be.
Mendoza Makes his Presence Felt
The game livened up again after a dull period and it was none other than Mendoza who got free from the left inside. The ball was lofted to him; it was bouncing, so he could only hit it against the keeper who saved well. Yet again, Elano spotted a runner and caressed the ball over the top to him. It was Jeje who didn’t need a controlling touch and simply stroked the ball with his left foot to the keeper’s left and into the goal. 2 – 0. He showed the kind of talent that took him to Glasgow Rangers in Scotland earlier.
At this point, it was surprisingly to see that Mumbai had more possession but then Chennaiyin is a counterattacking team that invites opponents into their half before breaking with aplomb. Chennaiyin actually only had about 39% possession.
I have to say that I was disappointed with Mumbai even though Chennaiyin’s defence is star-studded. I understand that Anelka is recovering from injury and may not be 100 percent but Peter Reid’s tactics were atrocious. In the first half, it was all about long punts forward. Really? You want long punts forward with Materazzi in the other team’s defence? Did you by any chance mistake your usual chewing gum with some sort of a weed cookie? What about your defence? Did you give them those cookies too because they were playing like they were stoned? I think, on evidence of this game, he’ll be replaced in the next season.
Chennaiyin served up another chance which Mumbai’s keeper saved again. Mumbai’s keeper needs to be commended. Well played. He’s the only one who kept the score pseudo-respectable. By this time, Chennaiyin could have been up by 4 – 0. Subhash for Mumbai got a chance to get his team back into the match but couldn’t take it.
The Goal Glut Begins
Mendoza threatened again from the left side of the box but his shot went over. He then turned up in the right back position defending and winning balls. Good call for the man of the match along with Elano. Mendoza made up for it after a bit though. Elano took a freekick from 34 yards out, swinging the ball into the keeper low, who promptly spilled it. Mendoza was there to nudge the ball into the net. 3 – 0.
Mendoza took his tally to 2 for the match when Elano set him free with another beautiful over the top pass. Mendoza did well to curve his run to break the offside trap. He pushed the ball over the keeper and followed it in. 4 – 0. Interesting fact time. Chennaiyin is the first team in ISL to score 4 goals in the first half.
Mumbai then had a claim for handball in the box turned down rightfully. Subhash complained to the referee, Materazzi stepped in, and lo and behold, there was a scuffle.
That was the first half. Second half turned out to be fairly dull with Mumbai passing from right to left and then from left to right with the central midfielders in the middle. The exception was Elano’s free kick from the side which made the score 5 – 0. His right footed ball from an acute angle outside the box curled through a couple of players into the bottom far corner.
The rest of the half was fairly dull and dreary. There were a slew of substitutions. Before the end, Mumbai pulled one goal back to 5 – 1 from a corner. The scorer was Nabi who headed the ball in. There was no celebration and no emotion. The game was over and Mendoza and Elano both missed out on their hat-tricks.
A word for Anelka. I know you didn’t hear much about him in this report but that’s because he was largely anonymous. He’ll turn on his magic later in the season. You just wait and watch…and pray.Follow: