© Heynortheast Media Private Limited
Jeje’s brace helps Chennaiyin outsmart Goa for final berth
Chennaiyin FC reached their second Hero Indian Super League final in three years as they outsmarted FC Goa 3-0 (4-1 aggregate) at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Chennai, on Tuesday.
The tie was evenly poised after the first leg ended 1-1 but a brace from Jeje Lalpekhlua (26 and 90 minutes) and one goal from Dhanpal Ganesh (29 minutes) was enough for Chennaiyin FC to seal a place in the final. They will now clash with Bengaluru FC at Sree Kanteerava Stadium, Bengaluru, on Saturday.
Jeje could have easily had a hat-trick but missed a handful of chances. However, when it mattered most, he put the ball in the back of the net as Chennaiyin turned a stunning first half on its head by scoring two goals in quick succession completely against the run of play.
For the first 21 minutes, it was all FC Goa. The visitors were incredible in attack and produced a flurry of chances. Mandar Rao Dessai and Narayan Das combined to send in a stinging cross across the face of goal which Jerry Lalrinzuala almost turned into his own net.
Chennaiyin goalkeeper Karanjit Singh was the busiest man on the pitch in this period where Goa sent waves towards goal. Hugo Boumous played in Mandar soon after and his shot went in off the inside of Karanjit’s thigh and eventually out of play. Karanjit was at it again when he made a stunning save to deny Manuel Lanzarote from a powerfully driven freekick.
Goa’s attacker in chief started creating more problems when he sent in a cross from the right to find Chinglensena Singh’s head, but the impending attempt on goal soared over the bar.
Chennaiyin finally produced something of meaning when Gregory Nelson’s super pass was met by Jeje’s header, but it was wayward. Just minutes later, he would score though – it was Nelson’s ball again, and Chennaiyin’s striker didn’t make any mistake from point-blank range with his head.
The home side doubled their lead even before Goa could breathe. Nelson sent in a lovely cross again and it was met by Dhanpal Ganesh, whose glancing header was enough to beat Naveen Kumar.
Raphael Augusto started turning on the heat with some magical skills and almost scored after ghosting past two Goa defenders only to shoot straight at the keeper. The last chance of the half fell to Goa, when Mandar dummied past Ganesh, only to see his shot saved by the fingertips of Karanjit.
Augusto, who ran the show with his graceful play, fired a warning shot seconds into the second half when he shot over from distance. Chennaiyin were pretty much in control in the latter half of the match, maintaining intensity in attack but keeping spaces tight at the back. Jeje could’ve put serious daylight between the two sides in the 65th minute but his lob over the keeper didn’t go in after a finely timed run.
Goa couldn’t fancy any chances as the match petered out, but it was Jeje again who could’ve sealed the match but his scissor-snapshot was loose and high as he attempted the half-volley. Minutes later, he capitalised on a defensive error and produced a fine finish to end Goa’s chances.
The News Mill is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@thenewsmill) and stay updated with the latest news from across Northeast India