Chennaiyin FC produced a crushing performance to beat Pune City FC 3-1 as they pipped Atletico de Kolkata to the top spot in the points table of the Indian Super League, in Chennai on Wednesday.
Courtesy strikes from Stiven Mendoza Valencia (62nd minute), Bruno Pelissari (70th min) and India international Jeje Lalpeklhua (90th min), Chennayin moved right on top of the table with 16 points.
For Pune, it was an unfortunate own goal by Chennaiyin’s Cameroonian mideo Eric Djemba Djemba, that had given them some hope before the final burst from ‘Blues’ buried them.
The hero of the match undoubtedly was young Balwant Singh, whose assist was key to two of the three goals scored by Chennai and he repeatedly switched flanks to keep the Pune players at bay.
During the first half, it was Chennaiyin, who dominated the proceedings with better ball possession.
In fact, it was Pune custodian Arindam Bhattacharya, who pulled off a stunning save in the 10th minute which was pure reflex work.
It was Chennaiyin’s best player Elano taking a perfect corner that fell into the melee and Jeje was quick to execute a backheel. The big-bodied Arindam was moving towards his left but arched his body back and stretched his right hand to avert the danger.
Elano, who did not look fully fit was taken off by coach Marco Materazzi along with Gourmangi Singh, who sustained a groin injury.
It was Mohun Bagan forward Balwant, who was pressed into action and the Chennayin had a lot of mibility upfront.
Chennayin’s first goal in the 62nd minute was a combination of a four-touch finish.
It was Mendoza, who received the ball on the left side of the central midfield. He quickly passed it onto Djemba Djemba and went on the overlap. The former Manchester United player’s first touch was for Balwant, who essayed a killer through pass that found Mendoza in the open.
While Arindam left his charge to narrow the angle, the Colombian placed it in with a deft chip.
In the 69th minute, Pune equalized against the run of play as Jermaine Pennant passed one to David Colomba, whose low shot saw Djemba Djemba deflect it into his own goal with goalkeeper Gennaro Bracigliano complete caught off-guard.
However Pune’s joy was shortlived as Chennayin again surged ahead in the very next minute much to the delight of the partisan capacity crowd.
It was the two Brunos from either side — Pelissari and Cirillo involved in the goal.
Chennayin Bruno Pellisari marched towards opposition goal before unleashing a powerful left-footer which deflected off Bruno Cirillo’s body to change direction and there was very little that Arindam could have done in this occasion.
The third and final goal was solely created by Balwant, who was a livewire down wide right as opposition defender Anupam Sarkar could only pull his jersey or shorts in a bid to stop the fleet-footed striker.
It was at end of the regulation time that Balwant received a ball at the edge of the 18-yard box. With a nice body feint, he set it up for Jeje, who sprinted from the blind side as the Pune defence was caught napping. Jeje finished with a powerful angular right footer that beat Arindam all ends up.