Indian football team coach Igor Stimac watched closely from the stands to as he attended Indian Arrows’ second I-League match at the Cooperage stadium in Mumbai on Friday where All India Football Development’s side were outplayed by Chennai City FC.
Claiming their fifth victory of the season, defending champions Chennai City climbed to third in the standings after goals from Katsumi Yusa and Adolfo Miranda Araujo while Arrows remained at the bottom of the pile.
The opening exchanges proved to be a combative affair, however, clear-cut chances evaded both teams even as Arrows started on a bright note.
Chennai City had the best chance during the 20th minute when Adolfo Araujo held the ball well and slid a through ball for Katsumi Yusa in the box. The Japanese eventually had his shot blocked by Arrows keeper Samik Mitra who closed down the angle well.
While Chennai City dominated possession, Indian Arrows maintained their shape, keeping the midfield congested and forcing Chennai City to make forays through the wings.
Left-back Ajit Kumar, who was a bright spark for Chennai City by marauding up and down his channel, had a chance of his own after the hour mark when he cut inside from the left only to curl his effort wide of the far post.
Chennai City continued to pile the pressure as midfielder Jockson Dias had another golden opportunity few moments later when he found ample of space in midfield and launched a shot from outside the box that clattered the post.
Two close chances fell for both teams in stoppage time just before the change of ends.
First, for Arrows, when RV Hormipan held the ball well down the right before releasing Nikhil Raj, who gloriously dribbled past two markers before forcing a save from Chennai City glovesman Nauzet Garcia.
At the other end, a cross from Vijay N fell towards Yusa as he passed the ball to Jockson but the midfielder was denied by centre-back Bikash Yumnam who made a vital block.
It didn’t take lock for Chennai City to break the deadlock as they scored just three minutes after the break. Striker Araujo, who had played a free role alongside Yusa in the first-half, out-muscled two Arrows defenders before finding the far post.
The defending champions doubled their tally at the hour mark just when Arrows began to find their feet as they scored a classic team goal with Araujo turning creator this time.
Arrows defence was all over the place when the Spaniard threaded a through ball to Jockson. The youngster made a fine rundown the right channel before tapping a cross for an unmarked Yusa at the other end, who beat Mishra with his first touch.
Despite conceding twice, Arrows showed more attacking intent and resorted to a more direct approach as they took the game to Akbar Nawas’ side after the break. One of the best chances came when substitute Gurkirat Singh played a precise long ball to Vikram Pratap Singh but the latter was denied by a last-ditch tackle from Chennai City centre-back Mashoor Thangalakath.
Arrows had another bite at the cherry when a long ball found Vikram Pratap minutes later, who unselfishly put in on the platter for Rohit Danu who had his shot blocked by Garcia.
Garcia, who was adjudged Player of the Match, pulled off some fine saves during the latter stages as he marshalled Chennai City’s defence with great responsibility when the Coimbatore-based outfit played a high line.
Arrows had a opportunity to grab a consolation goal on late during injury-added time when Vikram Pratap had a one-on-one chance with only Garcia to beat but the striker blazed his shot over the bar after he attempted a lob. Arrows will have to prepare for another tough test when they host second-placed Punjab FC next week.