From the off, I should tell you that there will be no introductory paragraphs where I have a tendency to rant, ramble, and rave to my heart’s content. I’ve decided to split those paragraphs off into a separate post. Your favourite ISL Blog now has a preview post for every match.
Both teams made huge changes to their starting line-ups before kick-off. Chennaiyin brought in 4 new players while Pune brought in 2. The most important changes, though, were Pune’s decision to play David Trezeguet and Chennaiyin’s choice of leaving Marco Materazzi and Mikael Silvestre out.
Chennaiyin FC Start Well
As I expected, Chennaiyin FC started the game well while FC Pune City started the game aggressively i.e. there were lots of FC Pune tackles flying into Chennaiyin FC’s players.
First proper chance in the game came from Jeje of Chennaiyin FC who headed just over when a long throw came into the FC Pune City’s 6 yards box. Yes, this was the first one because I don’t count Davide Colomba’s long shot as one. Khabra then showed wonderful skill by backflicking the ball into a Pune defender and gaining a corner. The resultant corner was almost turned in except for the lightning quick reflexes of Arindam Bhattacharya.
He moved his gloves inches but that was enough to keep the ball out of the net. One thing that was clearly notable was that the Chennaiyin FC’s fans do love their Bernard Mendy. Every time the dreadlocked defender touched the ball, he was cheered by the whole stadium. You know why that is? It’s because Mendy is an exciting player to watch. He’s always running with the ball and trying the audacious even though he’s a defender.
Chennaiyin Lose Elano & FC Pune City Lose Key Defender
At this point (15 minutes), Chennaiyin FC’s chances of winning by 2 goals and taking the top spot away from Atletico De Kolkata took a major hit. The league’s top goal scorer Elano went off limping. It was inevitable for him to get injured or be rested. Elano, remember, is 33 years old. This was going to be a test for Chennaiyin FC.
If Chennaiyin FC’s coach is smart he would have had his team practicing for the time when Elano would not be available to lead them. In another 6 minutes, FC Pune City lost a key player too in the form of Daniele Magliocchetti. The central defender has been a key component of FC Pune City’s good defensive performance. I still thought Chennaiyin’s loss was greater and it showed because FC Pune City began dominating soon after.
Another Blow for Chennaiyin FC
Chennaiyin FC’s lot became even worse when they lost another player in the form of their backup central defender Gouramangi Singh. They brought on Balwant Singh for him and pushed Djemba-Djemba into defence. They now had 3 forward purely because they didn’t have enough defenders.
Pelissari de Lima got a shot off from outside the box and managed to draw out a save from Pune’s keeper. He was all over the pitch at this juncture as he flew into a tackle on Arindam. That was a half of injuries with 3 people coming off and a number receiving treatment. However, it looked like Materazzi was prepared for playing without Elano and had had his team practice because Chennaiyin FC weren’t so bad.
Chennaiyin FC Buck up Their Game in the Second Half
The second half began with Chennaiyin FC on the front foot and john Stiven Mendoza Valencia being a menace once again. He had the FC Pune City defenders flummoxed more than once within the first 5 minutes. He would get his coup de grâce a little later.
David Trezeguet finally did something in the match. He tried a tough header which looped up into the keeper’s arms. To be fair to Trezeguet, he ploughed a lone furrow for most of the match as he didn’t get any supply from his midfielders. Without supply, a striker is nothing but a passenger, no matter how talented or experienced. Not surprisingly, he was replaced by the effervescent Dudu in the 56th minute.
At 62nd minute, Chennaiyin FC did what Atletico De Kolkata did in their last match i.e. go into the lead. The goal came in the form of Mendoza who set up the move with a lovely bit of skill beating 3 defenders before passing to Balwant Singh. Balwant turned towards the goal but his touch let him down. However, the steam train that is Mendoza burst through and chipped the ball over the charging keeper. Now, they only need one more goal to climb over Atletico De Kolkata. Chennaiyin FC 1 – 0 FC Pune City.
The Game Opens Up & Goals! Goals! Goals!
FC Pune City seemed to have picked up their game after the goal. This was only good for the game because it opened it up for both teams. Dudu almost ran into the goal and Pelissari gets a long range shot off. However, FC Pune City levelled at the stroke of 70 minutes as Davide Colomba crossed from the left only for Djemba-Djemba to slice the ball into the net. That was definitely an own goal. Chennaiyin FC 1 – 1 FC Pune City.
From the kick-off after the goal (70 minutes), Chennaiyin FC took the ball and drove into FC Pune City’s heart. Pelissari drove deep from the centre of the midfield and got a shot off. The shot got deflected off Cirillo and into the net. Chennaiyin FC 2 – 1 FC Pune City.
Third Injury; Third Substitution for Chennaiyin FC
Chennaiyin FC then lost their third player to injury as Mendoza went off the pitch on stretched clutching his hamstring. He was replaced by Jean-Eudes Maurice. Balwant Singh then showed that he is more than just the first Indian scorer of the Indian Super League as he nutmegged FC Pune City’s left back with a mesmerising bit of skill.
Chennaiyin got a chance to go top with their third goal through Jeje who had an almost free header from a Djordjic cross. This game had by now become more about whether Chennaiyin FC would take a 2 goal lead rather than whether FC Pune City would equalise. In stoppage time, they had a chance that they couldn’t have scripted themselves. Pelissari ran towards the goal from the left with two of his teammates in support. He tried to square the ball to Maurice but it was too short and the only Pune defender in the box at the time managed to intercept it. I think my mother could’ve passed better there.
Chennaiyin FC Climb the Summit
It wouldn’t matter though because Chennaiyin FC scored a minute later anyway. Balwant Singh put in a defence splitting ball into Jeje who struck a shot that went through Arindam’s legs. Chennaiyin FC 3 – 1 FC Pune City.
So that was a win for Chennaiyin FC in a match that was a joy to watch. They now sit pretty at the top of the Indian Super League but, at what cost? They’ve lost 3 key players and now have only 2 proper central defenders. This may affect them in the next few matches and whether they can maintain their position is a question we all should be asking. What do you think? Care to share?