Two-time champion Chennaiyin FC opened its account in this season’s Indian Super League with a goalless draw against Mumbai City in their first home game of the season at the Nehru stadium in Chennai on Sunday. It was an encounter filled with missed chances as both sides could not capitalise on the opportunities they had.
The Diwali crowd was treated to some quality football as both teams attacked, but the backline had a fair bit of work to do and the custodians did have a good game too. Mumbai City FC’s defence was solid as Sarthak Golui made an important block in the 85th minute. Brazilian Rafael Crivellaro had his chances in the opening half, but could not find the goal.
He kept pushing forward at every given opportunity before an injury resulted in his substitution in the 75th minute. In a bid to gain more control, Mumbai coach Jorge Costa brought in Portuguese midfielder Paulo Machado for Raynier Fernandes. The substitute almost had an impact when his pass found Kevyn in space down the left, but his first-time shot was tipped away by Chennaiyin custodian Vishal Kaith.
John Gregory’s side had to change their plans after Rafael Crivellaro went down injured after a tough challenge from Souvik, which forced the Englishman to bring on Masih Saighani. After a bit of a lull, Chennaiyin started to pile the pressure and almost got a break in the 80th minute.
A good passing move saw Anirudh Thapa play in Nerijus Valskis just inside the penalty box but the forward’s shot went wide.
The home team continued to threaten on the counter but a combination of poor decision-making from them and last-gasp defending by Mumbai City kept the scores level.
Though Mumbai City were reduced to 10 men in injury time after Souvik was sent off for a cynical foul on Thoi Singh, Chennaiyin could not force a winner. The first half was one of missed chances as both teams couldn’t capitalise on the opportunities that came their way.
Chennaiyin should have been a goal up in as early as the first minute as Brazilian Rafael Crivellaro put Maltese recruit Andre Schembri through on the left inside the box. Schembri beat a defender but Amrinder Singh put in a tackle. The ball fell to Crivellaro, whose shot was kept out.
Minutes later, a poor defensive header from Souvik Chakrabarti saw Lallianzuala Chhangte race through on goal but his tame effort was blocked by Amrinder and Rafael, who was following up, shot wide.
Mumbai City, who were struggling to put together moves, were dealt a blow in the 24th minute when Modou Sougou went off injured with Serge Kevyn replacing him. However, Mumbai started to grow into the game soon after and Amine Chermiti had two good chances to score.
First, he lobbed over after a disastrous backpass from Edwin Vanspaul before heading a Raynier Fernandes cross over from point-blank range in the 27th minute. Just past the half-hour mark, Kevyn was sent through on goal by Rowllin Borges, but the substitute shot wide as Mumbai started to exert themselves.
After a 0-3 defeat to FC Goa in the opener, Chennaiyin has got among the points with the draw and will look for further improvement in its next home game against ATK on October 30.