Chennai: Chennaiyin FC put up a completely dominating performance, getting back to winning ways with 3-0 victory over NorthEast United at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai on Thursday. It was also ‘The Highlanders’ first defeat in four seasons at the ‘Marina Arena.’ An own goal from Abdul Hakku in the 11th minute broke the deadlock, before Brazilian Raphael Augusto doubled the lead. Mohammad Rafi put the game to bed with a late header as the home side registered an comfortable victory, their first three points this season.
Playing their second match after at home after a disappointing loss to FC Goa, Chennaiyin coach John Gregory started with four man at the back, with Bikramjit and Dhanpal holding the midfield. The move paid off, as the home team looked more confident on the ball and moved forward with ease. Nelson Gregory, who got his first start also impressed with a fine display across the 90 minutes.
But it was ‘The Highlanders’ who almost scored the opening goal after Chennaiyin custodian Karanjit, in an attempt to clear a long ball, gifted possession to Seminlen Doungel, whose chip missed the goal by a whisker. Things however soon got going for the ‘Marina Machans’ as Francis put in a close header, missing the goal by a whisker.
Nonetheless the deadlock was soon broken, when Raphael Augusto’s shot was put into goal by Abdul Hakku in the 11th minute. The Brazilian midfielder however got his name into the scoresheet 13 minutes later, when Nelson’s header found him and Augusto scored, to make it 2-0. Things got worse for the away side as two of it’s players had to be subbed off before the first-half ended, showing a glimpse of what was a frustrating night for them.
Things remained the same as the match progressed into the second-half, with NorthEast failing to test the opposition goalie more than twice in the match despite having nine shots on goal, three more than Chennaiyin. De Deus has time and again pointed out Rowlin Borges and Halicharan Narzary as two of the best players in the country, but while the former was absent from the match, despite being declared fit, the latter put up an uninspiring performance failing to send in a quality ball, despite getting into crunch situations.
Meanwhile, it was the ‘Marina Machans’ who scored a third as NorthEast kept on searching their first goal of the season. Mohammad Rafi who replaced Jeje as a substitue, latched onto a rebound after Gavilán’s free-kick hit the upright. Rafi who was lurking close scored with a simple header, to nail the match well out of the opposition’s reach.
It was a complete packaging performance from the home boys who complemented each other while ‘The Highlanders’ go home searching a way to score their first goal in the league. Danilo has so far disappointed, unable to make a single attacking run and may well have to lift himself up for the team.