Margao: Chennaiyin FC walked home smiling after holding hosts Goa to a 1-1 draw in the first leg of the semi-final in the Indian Super League here on Saturday.
Manuel Lanzarote gave the home side the lead in the 64th minute of the game but his strike was cancelled out by Anirudh Thapa just seven minutes later to give Chennaiyin FC the important away goal which could prove vital when they both squarred-off again next Tuesday.
As expected, both teams rallied off to a great start and while the home side started the game on the front foot with some early crosses into the box, it didn’t take Chennaiyin FC too long to grow into this all-important clash. Mandar Rao Desai, who had an excellent first half for Goa created some good opportunities for his team in the first half. But the only thing missing was a goal.
At the other end, Chennaiyin FC had a few opening of their own. In the 20th minute, Jerry Lalrinzuala put in a tantalising ball in for his forwards to attack but lacked urgency.
The deadlock on the night was finally broken in the second half by FC Goa and Mandar was again heavily involved in the move. In the 64th minutes after making a darting run down the flank, he squared the ball for Coro to have a strike on goal. The Spaniard’s effort was stopped by Chennaiyin FC goalkeeper Karanjit Singh, however, the ball fell straight to Lanzarote and he put the ball into the net to hand his side the lead.
Goa were still celebrating the goal when seven minutes later substitute Anirudh Thapa’s low driven shot brought Chennaiyin FC back in the game. Gregory Nelson started the move with a ball for Thapa through the centre. The substitute took a touch and before firing in a low shot between the legs of FC Goa goalkeeper Laxmikant Kattimani.
The hosts tried to crave another opportunity as the final whistle approached by patiently moving the ball around the field but Chennaiyin FC defended well to take home a precious away goal.