Chennaiyin FC secured their first win in the ongoing Indian Super League, beating Hyderabad FC 2-1 at Chennai in a match that sprung to life in the final moments with all the goals coming in added time.
The home team went ahead 1-0 in the first minute of added time when Maltese import Andre Schembri beat the rival goalie Kamaljit Singh. The substitute’s strike was neutralised almost immediately as Matthew Kilgallon headed in powerfully, rising above the Chennaiyin defence to beat the custodian.
As the match headed towards a finish, Nerijus Valskis beat a hapless Kamaljit to get the first win of the season for John Gregory's men.
Schembri and Valskis combined to send the latter through on goal and he tucked in an excellent finish to send the home crowd into raptures on the stroke of the full-time whistle.
It was Chennaiyin FC’s first win in 289 days, bringing a lot of relief for Gregory, who two weeks ago was contemplating an exit.
CFC’s first goal of the season came when Schembri who came on as a substitute, smashed one past the HFC goalie.
The win takes the two-time ISL champion to four points and ninth in the standings, pushing Hyderabad to the last place.
In the 68th minute, Matthew Kilgallon blocked a fierce shot by Rafael Crivellaro to deny CFC a goal.
Earlier, it was a goalless first half but not without excitement. The home team created a lot of chances but as has been the case this season so far, the finishing touch was missing. The best chance came in the 25th minute when an unmarked Lallianzuala Chhangte missed his header from close range.
Hyderabad FC defence was caught off guard at times but skipper Kamaljit Singh led from the front and came up with a few good saves. A goalline clearance by Kilgallon in the 32nd minute was the closest Chennaiyin got.
Crivellaro and Chhangte made their way past the HFC defence but couldn’t find the net. The Chennaiyin coach was left fuming after Chhangte sent a close-range header agonisingly wide.
It was one-way traffic, but the opening goal continued to elude Chennaiyin. Some good work from Anirudh Thapa saw Chhangte get to the byline. His eventual cutback found Thapa but his shot on the turn was kept out by a combination of Kamaljit and Matthew Kilgallon.
Despite the occasional forays forward by Hyderabad, the pattern of the game remained the same till the break with Chennaiyin squandering chances galore.
For in-depth, objective and more importantly balanced journalism, Click here to subscribe to Outlook Magazine