Chennaiyin faced a defense that left only one open goal …
ATK defense Mohun Bagan had an answer for everything Chennaiyin threw at them when the two teams met in the Indian Super League (ISL) clash on Thursday. The match was scoreless for 90 minutes, but David Williams then scored a late winner to give Bagan a valuable victory.
Although the match went scoreless for 90 minutes, if anyone could score a winner, it was Bagan. Chennaiyin, minus injured Anirudh Thapa and Rafael Crivellaro, struggled to pace their play in midfield and, as a result, seemed lost in the final third.
The Machans had a shot on target the entire game. And when Enes Sipovic took advantage of Arindam Bhattacharya’s mistake to direct the ball towards an empty net late in the second half, a Tiri alert rushed to the goal line and cleared the danger, effectively warding off Chennaiyin Match. It was the closest Chennayin to come, but Bagan again had an answer.
Antonio Habas chose to start the match with four defenders – Subhasish Bose, Tiri, Sandesh Jhingan and Pritam Kotal – at the back. And Bagan managed to keep Chennaiyin away. After the break, he brought Sumit Rathi to Bose’s place to keep up with Thoi Singh’s pace. And Bagan still managed to keep Chennaiyin under control.
Isma Goncalves didn’t have a clue how to break Bagan’s defense and there was no proper support available for the striker. If there’s one Chennaiyin player who deserves a little credit, it’s goaltender Vishal Kaith. Without his superb save to keep up an excellent volley from Javier Hernandez in the first half, Bagan would probably have run away with the contest.
The next time Javier’s delivery threatened, which was later, Bagan scored. Substitute David Williams escaped the attention of the Chennaiyin defense and returned home to the game winner.
With the win, Bagan closed the gap with league leaders Mumbai City to just two points, although the Islanders have a game in hand. The top two places seemed to be more or less decided but there is still an exciting race to finish at the top of the league ahead between these two teams.
Habas’ only concern would be the dive in the form of Roy Krishna, who once again did not appear to be at his best. He hasn’t scored in the last three games but still has six goals in 12 games so far.
Csaba Laszlo, however, has a lot to think about. Without Golden Boot winner Nerijus Valskis and Crivellaro’s midfield mastermind, the Machans look like the ghost of the squad that made it to the ISL Final last season under Owen Coyle.
It must be worth it for Laszlo to try and start Esma and Jakub Sylvestr together. Their habit of conceding in the second half is also a problem for Chennaiyin. 10 of the 13 goals they conceded were in the second half of games.