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Resilient NEROCA deny Chennai City a win at home
Chennai City FC – 2 (Katsumi Yusa 26’ (P); Mashoor Shereef 31’) NEROCA FC – 2 (Khaiminthang Lhungdim 45'+3’; Boubacar Diarra 65’ (P))
Neroca FC came back strongly from 2-goal deficit to register a 2-2 draw against Chennai City FC at the JLN Stadium in Coimbatore on December 21. Following the draw, Chennai City remain seventh on the table with five points and Neroca FC stay one place below with four points.
Chennai City FC started the game on a positive note with dominating possession from the onset. They started with an unchanged line-up from the match against Aizawl FC as the trio of Fito, Pedro Manzi and Sandro were unavailable for the match.
After launching attacks relentlessly on Neroca goal for the first 25 minutes, it seemed Neroca’s defence would hold on till the end of the half, but eventually, they faltered. It was Katsumi Yusa who was fouled by a Neroca defender inside the box and Chennai got a golden chance to go ahead.
In the 26th minute, Katsumi Yusa stepped up to take the penalty and converted with finesse. Chennai went 1-0 up. Much time didn’t pass by as Chennai were growing more in confidence. With the clock striking 32 minutes, a beautifully built up play from the back and an inch-perfect cross into the box by Jockson Dhas found Mashoor Shereef inside the box, who didn’t make any mistake and headed the ball into the goal from close.
With Chennai leading 2-0, it was now up to Neroca to make a comeback before they head into half-time. Both coaches made some changes within the first half as Neroca brought on Gaty Kouami on for his compatriot Yawo Zico. Chennai coach Akbar Nawas brought in Ranjeet Singh for young Bijay Chhetri.
With Chennai City FC poised to go into the second half with a two-goal lead, Neroca FC struck in 45+3’ min as a header from under-22 midfielder Khaiminthang Lhungdim got one back for Neroca FC. The score at half-time stood at 2-1 in favour of Chennai City FC.
The play resumed and Neroca stepped up the pressure on Chennai. Even after playing a more pressing game Neroca wasn’t able to break the defence, but a careless mistake by the Chennai defence lead to a foul inside the box on Boubacar Diarra and penalty was awarded. He himself stepped up and scored from the spotkick to level the score at 2-2 with the clock ticking 65 minutes.
Chennai were not ready to let it go and switched the gear but none were able to edge past the Neroca Captain and keeper Marvin Devon Phillip. In the 82nd minute, Chennai launched a counter-attack and a perfect cross from the right-wing for Chennai ended at the feet of Katsumi but he couldn’t control the ball and the chance went begging.
Within a few moments, Katsumi again found him one-on-one with Neroca keeper but this time the keeper came out victorious. Phillip had a couple of heart-in-the-mouth situations but the hosts were not able to exploit those situations. In the 90th minute, Neroca made their final change to ensure that score stays the same as defender Dhananjoy Singh replaced Siam Hanghal. Neroca finally managed to hold on as the match ended in a 2-2 draw.
Hero of the match went to Khaiminthang Lhungdim from Neroca FC.
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