As I sat and prepared for this match, I admit that every time I thought of Chennaiyin FC’s Elano with his freekick prowess and Northeast United FC’s aggressive and counterattacking playing style, I felt excited (not like that, you perverts). This, for me, was a match that deserved a thorough watching, if aii mayebe so bould (get your hillbilly accent oun).
A Lot to Play For
After all, with a win in this game, Chennaiyin FC could’ve toppled the league leaders for the first time in the history of the Indian Super League (Atletico De Kolkata lost magnificently to FC Pune City yesterday just in case you don’t know). Northeast United FC also had a lot to play for as a win would have sent them above Chennaiyin to the second position on the table. In any case, they managed to climb one spot, while Chennaiyin FC managed to close the gap to Atletico De Kolkata to just one point.
Northeast seemed to have chosen a different formation for this match with James Keene, the Englishman, up front alone. The appearance was that they had switched their formation from 4-1-3-2 which they used against FC Pune City in their last match to 4-2-3-1 but it was a nice dummy from their manager. Instead, they showed a different formation but put Seiminlen (Len) Doungel up front to partner Keene mainly because of his pace. It was an interesting and very well thought out change because Chennaiyin’s defence does lack pace. Chennaiyin FC decided to make one change in their starting line-up from the last game against Atletico De Kolkata. They replaced Maurice to bring back Jeje (if only he had Okocha after his name*) into the team.
Northeast United FC Threatened But Chennaiyin FC Struck
All that strategy paid off for Northeast United too, because they dominated the initial exchanges through their midfield. This was especially significant because Northeast was the away team. That didn’t last long.
Chennaiyin slowly came into the game and the first proper chance fell to Chennaiyin’s Elano, though. He dribbled in from the right side, played one two with a team mate, and got a shot off. Unfortunately, the shot was a little scuffed and was aimed straight at the keeper, who saved.
Elano would still have the last laugh because by the 24th minute, he scored his seventh goal of the tournament. Surprisingly, it was a header. The cross came in from the left through Denson, Elano rose high, and actually placed the ball into the corner. Northeast United FC’s keeper didn’t even move. Chennaiyin FC 1 – 0 Northeast United
In case you don’t know, Elano isn’t the most physical of players. This is why he isn’t known for his heading ability. Still, he rose, he hung, and he conquered. No, this isn’t Prince of Persia.
Northeast United FC Come Back Into the Game
Chennaiyin FC had the better of the next few minutes till Northeast United gave them a taste of their own medicine by equalising against the run of play. The cross came in from deep on the right flank into the edge of Chennaiyin’s box. The ball was allowed to bounce before reaching Keene. Keene, very skilfully, nodded the ball into the path of Len who finished with aplomb on the half volley. It was a wonderful layoff and an equally good finish into the far corner. Chennaiyin FC 1 – 1 Northeast United FC.
The good first half cake was capped off by the anti-cherry (same as the antihero) from Marco Materazzi who suddenly thought he was Ronaldo and let fly from far far away. The shot was wild, wide, and wanderful.**
Second Half: Posturing Undertaken, Threats Exchanged, Shots Fired
The second half began with Northeast United FC working very hard as always and Chennaiyin FC trying to counter when they could. Northeast United is the fittest team in the ISL, if you ask me. Many of you may disagree or may even denigrate me for the stereotype but I think Northeast United typifies what I think people from the Northeast are like in India. They work hard, work together, and have a lot of stamina.***
Around 5 minutes in, Northeast United FC had another good chance because of their graft. Keene chased a hopeless cause and made the Chennaiyin FC keeper panic. The ball was spilled onto the path of Len. Len tried a shot and could’ve scored except for a nice block / deflection. The deflected ball was then cleared.
Elano then decided to take the game by the scruff of its neck. He took the ball, ran past two players, and let loose a venomous shot. The ball was swerving but was saved well by the Northeast keeper. He beat the ball back and was lucky that it didn’t fall to another Chennaiyin FC player. It was a good save.
This was followed by two long throws which went straight into the centre of Northeast United FC’s penalty box. Both caused Rehenesh a lot of trouble but didn’t yield a goal.
Len was replaced by Alen at the stroke of 61 minutes. Alen, just so you know, is named after the iconic English striker Allan Shearer. Shearer is possibly the only player I ever liked from Newcastle United and that’s not because of his loving and sporting personality but because of his game. The kid Alen looked good. Pacey and skilful but he’s still a teenager so lacks a certain bit of experience.
Chennaiyin FC changed both their strikers to mix things up bringing on Balwant and Maurice for Jeje and Mendoza. Their final substitution was Djordjic who replaced Materazzi.
At 72 minutes, Northeast United FC had a big scare when Rehenesh rushed in to clear a ball which was toed away from him by the Chennaiyin striker, Balwant. Rehenesh clattered Balwant and surprisingly he won a freekick. It should’ve been a penalty and Northeast United FC were very lucky. The referee Pratap Singh messed up there glaringly.
Elano Shows Why He’s The Top Goalscorer in ISL
Elano came up with another moment of brilliance but this time he topped it off with a wonderful shot. He came in from the left flank, skipped away from four defenders, and hit a bullet of a shot into the far corner. The keeper could’ve saved it but he couldn’t. New League Leaders 2 – 1 Northeast United FC.
The game was broken up by a scuffle between the two opposing Brazilians. Felipe elbowed Elano and in the following fall Elano thumped Felipe in return. Elano’s complaint was that he was hit in the face twice. He proceeded to go head to head with Khongjee. Both of them received a yellow card.
Koke to Elano: What You Can Do, I Can Do Too!
Following the scuffle, it was Northeast United’s ISL marquee player Koke who showed his brilliance by volleying a high ball into the far corner. The ball came in from the right flank. Koke’s shot was exceptional. It would’ve been exceptional in the UEFA Champion’s League, such was the technique. Chennaiyin FC 2 – 2 Northeast United.
The momentum shifted to Northeast United FC’s end after that goal and they tried to take full advantage of it. They almost scored in the end when Koke set up Do but he missed. That was it, though. This was a breathless match that asthma and heart patients should have avoided. End to end, full of fun, worthy of being tun! (Hindi word, in case you don’t know; look it up)
*Any of you remember Jay Jay Okocha? A tremendously flashy player.
**Wanderful = something that wanders a lot. It DOES not mean a Bihari accent. I am the agent of chaos for the English language. I keep trying to evolve the language all by my lonesome.
***You try going up and down a mountain as a part of your daily routine. You’ll have stamina too.