Chennaiyin FC sent NorthEast United FC crashing out of the Indian Super League playoffs race with a 2-1 victory at the Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium on Tuesday.

With both teams fighting for the vacant sixth spot in the standings, Chennaiyin FC secured their third comeback win in a row thanks to Ankit Mukherjee’s winner in stoppage time.

Chennaiyin are peaking at the right time and have 27 points from 21 matches in the competition. With 23 points from as many matches, NorthEast United FC cannot catch up to them even if they win their only remaining fixture against Odisha FC. With 24 points and a match left to play, East Bengal FC are still in the tussle for the sixth spot with Chennaiyin.

Both sides had chances to take the lead in the first half. Chennaiyin left back Aakash Sangwan hit the crossbar from an acute angle in the 12th minute. Ryan Edwards had the chance to give the home side the lead but his header from a set piece was saved well by Gurmeet Singh.

After a goalless first half, it was the visitors who took the lead in the second half. NorthEast United hit Chennaiyin on the counter. Parthib Gogoi spotted Jithin MS’s run and squared the ball to the attacker. The 26-year-old attacker calmly slotted the ball past Debjit Majumder in the Chennaiyin goal.

However, Chennaiyin recovered rhythm as the game entered its final 20 minutes. Their equaliser came arguably in the most unlikeliest of ways, with Aakash Sangwan scoring directly from the corner to help Chennaiyin draw level.

Both sides hunted for the winner and struck the frame of the goal in the final ten minutes. The home side finally got the winner through Mukherjee.

Rahim Ali spotted Mukherjee’s run at the edge of the box and passed. The right back hit a first-time shot past a stationary Gurmeet Singh much to the delight of the home fans.

Chennaiyin only need to avoid defeat in their final match against FC Goa to ensure their place in the play-offs.