Solidity at the back and a general discipline to structure was what pushed Chennaiyin FC to the title last season. This has been something that was missing so far but today, that is exactly what they showed. It was clear that they came into the second half with a plan to extend their lead as early as possible. They did that through Davide Succi and then, they remained tight and made sure that FC Pune City found no cracks to exploit.
FC Pune City had their moments in the first half. In fact, Antonio Habas seemed to have won the tactical battle with Marco Materazzi in the first half-hour but tactics don’t matter when the players on the field don’t deliver. The two wing backs could did not manage to get crosses into the box and exploit the spaces left in the wide areas by the champions. When they did, the forwards in the box were not ready for them and the attack just fizzled out on its own.
Two teams that have had contrasting fortunes in recent matches meet each other in Chennai today. FC Pune City have had a slow start to the season but victories against Atletico de Kolkata and Mumbai City FC have given them some momentum coming into this match.
Momentum is exactly what Chennaiyin FC don’t have. They have not won a match since triumphing over NorthEast United in October and have had crushing defeats in their last two matches.
“We have good chances to make it to the qualifiers. Goa (placed at the bottom) is also hoping, (and) if they do, we can also hope to make it,” said Chennaiyin FC coach Marco Materazzi.
Chennaiyin FC are playing in their regular blue jerseys while FC Pune city are in their away colours. Bernard Mendy was the standout performer for Chennaiyin FC in their 4-1 loss to Delhi Dynamos and Materazzi has chosen him to lead the team out once again.
Jonathan Luca swung in a free kick that was kicked out of play and Chennaiyin FC conceded the first corner. It was taken short and came to nothing. Chennaiyin attempted a counter attack but were stopped at the halfway mark.
Chennaiyin FC got their first chance of the match. Augusto charged into the box from the right and tried to pass the ball to Succi. Succi couldn’t get to the ball and the linesman would have called off side anyway.
FC Pune City holding on to the ball more now and are just feeling around, looking for an incisive pass. Chennaiyin are staying back and have managed to kick the ball back to the Pune half whenever it gets too dangerous. Its all looking a bit cagey and it remains 0-0.
Chennaiyin FC look a bit hesitant in attack as is evident from Wadoo passing the ball all the way back to the goalkeeper from the Pune half despite not being under any considerable pressure. Antonio Habas as animated as ever on the touchline.
Raphael Augusto decided to take the shot from outside the box on the break and hit it wide. Marco Materazzi looked very unhappy and rightfully so, as Succi was waiting in the box with considerable space.
David Succi was the target of Materazzi’s ire this time. He took the ball from FC Pune and ran from his own half to the opposition’s. Two players were on his left and right but Succi took the shot from outside the box. It was devoid of any power or direction and simply rolled outside.
Raphael Augusto driblled past two players but was finally fouled by Sissoko. Bernard Mendy took the resulting free kick that came to nothing.
Antonio Habas will be wondering if he made a mistake with formation not because of the opposition but because of his two wide men. Both Raju and Das have wasted opportunites to whip the ball in the from the flanks and have given the ball away cheaply instead.
Jeje has not seen too much of the ball and he can’t be blamed for it. Chennaiyin FC’s tendency to put hopeful long balls into the box gives him little chance against centre halves.
It was a series of errors from FC Pune City when both Raju and Das managed to whipped balls into the box. It seems the Pune attackers themselves weren’t ready for them both times and failed to get any meaningful touch to it. Habas looked absolutely livid and he would be. No one can blame his tactics today and it is solely because of the players that they have not managed to score.
GOAL!! Chennaiyin FC 1-0 FC Pune City (Jeje 43′)
The man who seems to be the most isolated is the man who scored. Jeje timed his run perfectly and managed to find a free header when the ball came in. Just before the halfway mark, Chennai have made the mark.
HALF TIME!! Chennaiyin FC 1-0 FC Pune City (Jeje 43′)
Chennaiyin seemed to have forgotten that Jeje is a diminutive figure who likes the ball on his feet and can’t possibly fught with big centre backs in the air. They were providing ball after ball into the box with hope that somebody would be at the end of it. Finally, it seems Jeje decide to toe the line and tucked one in with the head. Both teams have made mistakes that made their managers bounce about in frustration, and it will be seen if this continues in the second half.
Jeje has kept up his 100% scoring record against FC Pune City and that would give Chennaiyin some breathing space. But they have been sloppy in defence. Jonathan Luca took a shot from near the left touchline and the ball bounced off the goalkeeper. There was no Pune player nearby and he was able to retain the ball.
GOAL!! Chennaiyin FC 2-0 FC Pune City (Succi 50′)
This time, the lobbed pass into the box finds Succi who, unlike Jeje is a tall man who can wrestle with the centre halves. He manages to connect with the head and puts the ball in the back of the net. Chennaiyin in the ascendancy.
FC Pune will be ruing the chances they missed in the first half as they are hardly able to get an attack together. A corner that they finally was won was taken as flat as possible and was easily cleared away by Chennaiyin.
Some typical Brazilian skill there from Raphael Augusto as he dribbled past Raju.
There has been some friction between Raphael Augusto and Sissoko in the first half too and that seems to have continued. The former made the pass and the ball was nowhere near his feet when Sissoko gave him a nudge in the back. Raphael made the most out of it by falling down dramatically. The free kick was given but it turned out to be a harmless one.
A substitution for Chennaiyin FC as Baljit Sahni comes on the field for Blasi, who has silently made sure that the mid field remianed air tight. Chennaiyin had a chance immediatly the play resumed when Succi continued his run after a one-two with a team mate. He almost chased down the ball with no one to stop him when Edel Bete played the sweeper role and kicked the ball out of play. Chennaiyin lead still by 2-0
Chennaiyin have done a lot of things right in this second half. They made sure that they capitalised on the pressure that the away side may be feeling after conceding just before half time and remained solid in defence after that.
Raphael Augusto goes off the field to rapturous applause from the home crowd. The Brazilian has wrecked havoc for Pune with his passes and his bursts of speed. The man who comes on is John Arne Riise
Goalscorer Davide Succi is subbed off Materazzi is clearly looking to keep Pune at bay. It looks like Chennaiyin FC are on the verge of a first victory in four matches. Also, in what seems to be a hark back to his Liverpool days, John Arne Riise is playing on the left wing.
FULL TIME!! Chennaiyin FC 2-0 FC Pune City
Chennaiyin FC remained solid when it mattered and it payed off. FC Pune City seemed to have given up in the last five minutes and no one can blame them as Chennaiyin truly can be impenetrable when they defend the way they did today. Jeje showed that he deserves a starting spot in the team line up and continues his 100% scoring record against Pune City. Chennaiyin jump to fifth spot and are level on points with Atletico de Kolkata