Chennaiyin FC were back in reckoning for a place in the semi-finals of Hero Indian Super League after a composed 2-0 victory over FC Pune City at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Chennai, on Tuesday.
Chennaiyin FC used their head to good effect as goals from Jeje Lalpekhlua (44th minute) and Davide Succi (51st minute) in either half gave the defending champions their first win in six matches. Chennaiyin FC had wretched form in the last five matches but they put their woes behind to climb up the ladder. From seventh, Chennaiyin FC are now in fifth spot with 13 points from 10 matches and are only outside the top four due to an inferior goal difference.
Pune City will be concerned about their chances of qualification for semi-finals. The team coached by former ISL champion Antonio Habas is now placed sixth, although they are only a point behind the defending champions. Needing to win to keep their chances alive, Chennaiyin FC coach Marco Materazzi made five changes to his starting line-up as he introduced players like Eder Monteiro, Hans Mulder, Davide Succi and Manuele Blasi to the starting line-up while Karanjit Singh was preferred as goalkeeper.
Habas did not change much, making just one opting for Raju Yumnam in place Rahul Bheke. Pune City infact started well and had decent chances before they fell by the wayside. Anibal Zurdo was the first to try his luck with a free-kick that missed the target by a whisker and Lenny Rodrigues made a fine run on the right but his final attempt lacked power and direction, despite being in a good position. Raphael Augusto was the most impressive player for Chennaiyin FC. The Brazilian made his intention clear in the 21st minute when he intercepted a pass from Jonatan Lucca, ran down the flank but ended with a disappointing right-footer when passing to Succi would have been a better option.
Succi also had a shot on goal but his effort was wayward in the 24th minute. Chennaiyin FC drew first blood just before half-time through Jeje. Bernard Mendy started the move by playing the ball for Raphael in the middle.
The Brazilian found Hans Mulder whose cross for Succi, got a touch before reaching Jeje and the highest Indian goal-scorer in the ISL did the rest by beating Pune goalkeeper Edel Bete with a smart header from close.
Pune City tried to fight their way back but Chennaiyin FC were just too solid in defence, not giving any chance whatsoever to their rivals.