Chennaiyin FC marked a happy return to their home ground with a comprehensive 5-1 victory over Punjab FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium in the Indian Super League 2023-24 on Sunday.
Owen Coyle-coached teams have recorded 1.7 goals per game in 62 matches across his three tenures in the ISL. But he has had a slow start at Chennaiyin FC, with his team scoring twice in four games ahead of the match against Punjab.
The hosts, however, put on a show for their home fans against the ISL debutants. Chennaiyin opened the scoring in the 24th minute with Ryan Edwards doing well to slot Rafael Crivellaro’s corner kick into goal.
Coyle’s team made the most of this window of opportunity by breaking into a counter attack. Crivellaro and Scottish striker Connor Shields led that move, with the former squaring off a pass for the striker inside the box. The forward found the back of the net in the 27th minute to record his first goal of the match.
Crivellaro had been assisting goals all this while, but the Brazilian attacking midfielder got a chance to get one on his name at the brink of the half-time whistle. Farukh Choudhary showed quick feet to cut into the box, but was brought down by Punjab defender Melroy Melwin Assisi. Crivellaro stepped up on the spot and converted the penalty in added time of first half to triple his team’s lead.
Chennaiyin didn’t take their foot off the pedal in the second half though. Melroy was sent off after a foul in the 48th minute. That one-man advantage benefitted Chennaiyin when Rahim Ali stormed into the box from the left flank. He drew defenders towards him and laid out an assist for Shields, who bagged his brace in the 56th minute.
Coyle’s team appeared eager to make the most of their impressive form, and hence kept seeking goal-scoring opportunities even as the game entered its final few minutes. Vincy Barretto found himself in a goal-scoring position in the 84th minute, and Jordan Murray found him with a good pass to create Chennaiyin’s fifth goal of the night.
Two minutes later, Krishnananda Singh unleashed a shot from outside of the box that beat Debjit Majumder to reduce Punjab’s goal deficit. However, that effort was arguably too little, too late for the visitors.