Chennaiyin, Jamshedpur share spoils
Imphal : Two substitutes combined to score in the 89th minute as Chennaiyin FC rallied to hold Jamshedpur FC 1-1 and add an important point to their Hero Indian Super League points tally at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Chennai, on Sunday.
Jamshedpur FC were running away with yet another victory after another moment of brilliance from Wellington Priori had given Steve Coppell's side the lead in the 32nd minute. The visitors defended deep in the second session but Mohammad Rafi eventually broke through with one minute left to play.
The goal, from a corner kick taken by another substitute, Rene Mihelic, could prove to be crucial in the final analysis while deciding the play-off places. Chennaiyin FC continue to be placed third with 28 points from 16 matches while Jamshedpur FC are fourth with 26 points from 16 matches, leaving both with everything to fight for in the remaining two matches.
For most part it had looked like Jamshedpur would notch their sixth win in seven matches. Steve Coppell's side has made a remarkable late bid for a place in the play-offs and they started strongly.
They should have got the lead early in the game when Jerry Mawihmingthanga floated a ball from the right and found Farukh Choudhary at the far post. Farukh, with a free header, directed it wide of the target.
Jamshedpur FC got their goal in the 32nd minute through Wellington, who had scored a stunning bicycle kick goal against NorthEast United FC in the previous game. This time too the goal was stunning as he made space for himself outside the box from a hasty clearance and then surprised Chennaiyin goalkeeper Karanjit Singh with a volley that bounced just in front of him and entered the nets.
Jamshedpur FC have one of the strongest defences in the league, conceding the least number of goals (12) and they reverted to their strategy of shutting down opposition. They defended in numbers and negated all the attacks, restricting Chennaiyin FC to some long rangers which went astray.
However, Chennaiyin FC tasted success at the very end when two substitutes – Rafi and Mihelic – combined perfectly during one of the many corners that they won. Mihelic floated the corner tantalisingly into the box and goalkeeper Subrata Paul faltered by leaving his line and getting stranded midway. Rafi sensed the chance and finished the move off with a wonderful looping header that sailed over defender Raju Yumnam into the goal.
During the five minutes of added time, both teams came close to securing the winner. Wellington's snap shot was parried away by Karanjit while Jamshedpur had a lucky escape as Mihelic's freekick saw Henrique Soreno late to react with an open goal infront.