Updated: March 7, 2019 12:59:07 am
Indian Super League side Chennaiyin FC played out a 0-0 draw with Sri Lanka’s Colombo FC in their AFC Cup qualifying play-off first leg tie on Wednesday.
It was a closely contested match but the goal-scoring chances were at a premium for both sides on a humid afternoon at the Race Course Ground in Colombo. Last season ISL champions Chennaiyin were making their AFC Cup debut.
After a tepid opening few minutes, the game’s first real chance fell to Chennaiyin’s Francis on the right, whose shot from a distance following a chest-down from striker Jeje Lalpekhlua went just wide.
With half hour gone, the referee called for a water break given the hot and humid conditions in Colombo. After the water break, Chennaiyin withstood a short spell of Colombo pressure and started building attacks of their own.
Both sides were unable to find the decisive pass in the final third as the first half ended goalless.
The second half began much like the first as both teams found it difficult to get clear chances. Thapa and Raphael continued to keep the ball in the midfield but the incisive pass in the final third was lacking.
With the last quarter of the match to go, Colombo drew a sharp save out of Chennaiyin keeper Karanjit Singh. The Chennaiyin custodian did well to parry it away from the goal.
Chennaiyin made two quick changes shortly after as Thoi Singh and C K Vineeth replaced Isaac Vanmalsawma and Francis respectively.
Thoi’s and Vineeth’s introduction injected some urgency in the Chennaiyin forward line with half chances falling the substitutes’ way, but to no avail.
Dimitri then made a surging run on the right flank for Colombo with a minute of normal time left but his shot flew just above Karanjit’s goal.
Striker Mohammed Rafi came on for Jeje in the final minutes as Chennaiyin pushed for the winner, but Colombo held on.
The second leg of the qualifying play-off will be played at The Arena by TransStadia in Ahmedabad on March 13.
“It was a tough game as we had expected. We didn’t get the away goal we were hoping to get but we managed to keep a clean sheet. It’s all to play for in the second leg in one week’s time,” said Chennaiyin FC head coach John Gregory.
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