Rahim Ali’s double strike helped Chennaiyin FC rout NorthEast United FC 4-2 while Mumbai City FC left it late to defeat Churchill Brothers FC 2-1 in the Group D matches of the Super Cup at the Payyanad stadium in Manjeri on Tuesday.
Chennaiyin FC didn’t have to wait long to open the scoring in the 17th minute, when forward Rahim Ali found a perfect cross delivered to him from the right flank by Vafa. The lanky forward still had everything to do as he met the ball in the air to head it into the far corner, giving Mirshad Michu no chance and putting Chennaiyin ahead.
Aakash Sangwan, who had a good day in the office, came into the party in the 34th minute to provide an assist for Edwin Sydney Vanspaul, who made it 2-0 for the team from Chennai. It all started off with a throw-in from the left flank, which was initially met by Jiteshwor. As Jiteshwor whipped in a cross in the half turn, the ball went to Aakash, who nodded it down for Edwin. The right-back volleyed the ball in.
Just when it looked like Chennaiyin FC were having full control of the proceedings, NorthEast United FC got a goal back in the 42nd minute. Defender Alisher sent in a long ball for Jithin, whose brilliant first touch took him away from his marker. Jithin squared the ball for captain Wilmar Jordan, but Chennaiyin goalkeeper Samik Mitra was prompt enough to come off his line and save the initial attempt. Rochharzela pounced on the rebound and scored from outside the box to make it 2-1 before half-time.
Chennaiyin FC continued their momentum in the second half as well and had to wait for five minutes only to make the scoreline 3-1. Aakash Sangwan curled in a left-footed corner, which was met by Duker at the far post, whose left-footed volley hit the crossbar and went inside the goal to extend the lead.
The team from Chennai increased the margin in the 82nd minute when Rahim Ali scored his second goal of the match by heading in from close. Julius Edwin did the spadework this time, floating in a ball from the right flank to find Rahim Ali.
NorthEast United scored a consolation goal in the dying moments of the match when substitute Emil Benny, after a solo run, passed on to Laldanmawia Ralte, who rounded off Samik Mitra to make it 4-2.
Contrary to expectations, Churchill Brothers took the Indian Super League 2022-23 Shield Winners by surprise early in the game. Striker Ansumana Kromah took the ball away from Mumbai goalkeeper Phurba Lachenpa in the 9th minute and put it in the back of the net to make it 1-0. It shocked the ISL outfit, but also gave Churchill much needed impetus and confidence in their game.
Des Buckingham’s men rallied together and produced wave after wave of attacks to eventually find an equaliser in the 27th minute. The breakthrough came via the head of defender Mehtab Singh who nodded home from Rowllin Borges’ perfect cross as Mumbai City drew level.
Soon enough Mumbai City were the ones driving the game, creating a flurry of chances. It wasn’t all one-way traffic though. Churchill were patient to play on the counter and right before half time, Kromah once again had the chance to give the Goan side the lead. The striker had driven into the box with Martin Chaves for support, but decided to go on his own and missed the goal by inches.
Ultimately, Mumbai City’s resilience and quality shone through. Late in injury time, Vikram Partap Singh was brought down inside the box by a reckless tackle, Joseph Clemente the guilty party. Chhangte stepped up to take the resultant penalty and slotted it home.
Mumbai City will next face fellow ISL side Chennaiyin FC, on 19 April while Churchill Brothers go up against NorthEast United in Manjeri.