Pitted right away against his former employers, coach Owen Coyle could not get his side Jamshedpur FC off to a winning start in their Indian Super League encounter against Chennaiyin FC in Goa on Tuesday.
Chennaiyin, last season’s runner-up under Coyle’s leadership, were impressive over the 90 minutes and deserved the 2-1 win but were guilty of wasting chances to expand their lead.
Midfielder Anirudh Thapa started the scoring in the match in the first minute, becoming the first Indian player to find the back of the net this season. Esmael Goncalves scored the second for CFC from the spot, before last season’s Golden Boot winner Nerijus Valskis scored one against his former side to reduce the deficit.
There were more chances to score for both sides in the second half but the match finished 2-1 in favour of Csaba Laszlo’s side.
Thapa got the game off to an electrifying start, scoring in the very first minute. CFC captain Rafael Crivellaro won the ball and found Goncalves on the right flank and his low cross was powered into the net by the India midfielder.
The next few minutes made it evident what sort of a game this was going to be. Jamshedpur’s English defender Peter Hartley wasted a golden opportunity to draw his team level in the seventh minute and headed a free-kick wide off the target.
Three minutes later, Goncalves found himself one-on-one with opposition custodian TP Rehenesh but failed to find the target.
Lallianzuala Chhangte missed a chance to score in the 20th minute. His first touch, as he received Crivellaro’s excellent pass, took the ball away and the subsequent effort was pushed behind by Rehenesh.
But, he made amends five minutes later, drawing a push from Isaac Vanmalsawma inside the box and winning a penalty, even if the decision was a soft one. Goncalves did not make a mistake from the spot to put his side 2-0 up.
Chennaiyin enjoyed a spell of domination soon after the second goal. With captain Hartley off injured, Jamshedpur’s defence looked to be there for the taking. But a familiar face had different ideas.
In the 37th minute, Valskis headed in Jackichand Singh’s cross and reacted with folded hands, almost as if he was apologising to fans of his former team.
Hartley’s replacement Narender Gehlot pulled off a goal-saving tackle at the end of the first half as CFC could not build on their lead, leaving JFC still in the game.
The second half started off with both teams creating chances in the first 10 minutes.
Chennaiyin forward Jakub Sylvestr wasted the best of them, firing a Chhangte cross over the bar.
At the other end, Jamshedpur were pushing hard for the equaliser. Stephen Eze should have headed home in the 64th minute but missed the target while Jackichand failed to capitalise on an error by Chennaiyin keeper Vishal Kaith four minutes later. But it was the side in the lead who finished the match as the stronger of the two sides with Chhangte heavily involved.
Ultimately Jamshedpur were left to rue their misses while Chennaiyin were good value for the win.
(With PTI inputs)