Chennaiyin FC breach Bengaluru Fortress with a late winner
Dhanpal Ganesh’s dramatic late winner silenced the Fortress as Chennaiyin FC breached Bengaluru FC fortress in a sixth-round clash of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL).
In a match that was billed as a ‘Southern Derby’ with both coaches making it clear there was added motivation to win this one, Jeje Lalpekhlua provided Chennaiyin FC with the lead in the fifth minute.
It stayed that way till the end of the first half but Bengaluru FC, who have scored most of their goals in the second session, got the equaliser in the 85th minute. With five minutes still left to be played, Bengaluru FC fancied their chances of even securing the winner but the much-celebrated match-winner came at the other end as Ganesh headed home in the 88th minute.
It was a dramatic end to an invigorating clash that took them to 12 points from six matches, the same as Bengaluru FC and FC Goa, who have a match in hand. Chennaiyin FC, however, are placed third with an inferior goal average.
Chennaiyin FC won’t mind that, particularly because this victory comes after their loss in Mumbai. John Gregory’s side put up a commendable team performance, although it was a great defensive display from players like captain Henrique Sereno, Mailson Alves, Inigo Calderon and Dhanpal Ganesh which helped them hand Bengaluru FC their first defeat at home this season.
Chennaiyin FC were also helped by an early goal, scored by their top Indian goal-scorer, Jeje. It came in slightly lucky circumstances as Lenny Rodrigues’s clearance deflected off Chhetri and landed right in front of Jeje who did well to slam it past goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu.
Bengaluru FC coach Albert Roca made six changes to his side as he rested Juanan, Subhasish Bose, Udanta Singh, Erik Paartalu and Braulio Nobrega along with goalkeeper Lalthuammawia Ralte and it showed in their performance as they could not impose themselves on the opposition. Even their highest goalscorer, Miku, who scored in the last four matches, was kept quiet throughout.
It was only in the second session that Bengaluru showed more urgency, and with Udanta on the field, chances came thick and fast. Captain Chhetri missed from close range early in the second half but more than made up for that miss with a superb equaliser in the 85th minute. Left unmarked, Chhetri simply picked up a pass from Toni Dovale and gave Chennaiyin goalkeeper Karanjit Singh no chance with his half-volley.
Chhetri appeared to have rescued a crucial point and saved Bengaluru’s proud home record at the Fortress. However, Dhanpal Ganesh silenced the crowd in the 88th minute when he rose high to meet a scorner from Rene Mihelic.