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Elano’s injury time penalty helps Chennaiyin FC hold Atletico de Kolkata

Elano's 92nd min penalty canceled out Garcia's 35th min spot-kick as the hosts earned a well deserved point.

Written by Durgesh Haridas | Chennai |
Updated: November 5, 2014 1:17:14 am
isl-chennai-elano-story-L Chennayin’s playmaker and ISL top scorer Elano Blumer was given the captain’s armband and played in his preferred central attacking midfielder role. (Source: ISL)

It was a battle of the top two teams in the Hero Indian Super League on Tuesday, second placed Chennaiyin FC played hosts to league leaders Atletico de Kolkata.

Mananger cum player Marco Materazzi chose to select himself in the Chennaiyin starting XI once again and the home team were playing a more attacking 4-1-3-2 formation as compared to the 5-3-2 they fielded against Mumbai City FC.

The Kolkata side were more than happy to see the return of marquee and captain Luis Garcia, they also had Cameroonian born Armenian keeper Apoula Edel as regular custodian Subhashish Roy hadn’t completely recovered from a wrist injury.

Chennayin’s playmaker and ISL top scorer Elano Blumer was given the captain’s armband and played in his preferred central attacking midfielder role while Materazzi sat in front of the back four. Making his ISL debut was Jean-Eudes Maurice of Haiti.

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ENGAGING FIRST HALF

The two teams were pretty well matched and made a few attempts on each other’s goals. Luis Garcia and Borja were controlling the midfield for Kolkata with their brilliant through balls and good spread of play but strikers Rafi and Sahni couldn’t make the most of the passes. Mendoza and Elano used their mesmerizing footwork and pace to keep the home fans on the edge of their seats.

Atletico lived up to their reputation as the side with the most number of tackles in the ISL and gave away two free-kicks around the 30 yard box- well within Elano territory. But the Brazilian couldn’t convert from the set pieces. Bernard Mendy and Gouramangi Singh were combining well on the right for Chennaiyin and kept feeding the strikers with some good crosses.

The match’s first major event came in the 35th minute when a Chennaiyin keeper Shilton Paul raced off his line to clear a cross meant for Kolkata striker Rafi but the latter got tot he ball first and the referee pointed to spot and showed a direct red card to Shilton who clattered into the striker bringing him down.

Chennai had to offload an on field player to bring on the substitute keeper, debutant Maurice made way for Gennaro Bracigliano. Garcia stepped up to take the spot- kick for Kolkata and drilled the ball into the bottom corner of the net to give the visitors a 1-0 lead.

Though Chennai altered their formation the attacking intent didn’t subside and Mendy and Mendoza made some piercing runs into the Kolkata penalty area but failed to find he back of the net.

Materazzi didn’t change the formation much and was operating with Mendoza as the lone striker while he took a more deeper position almost at the centre of defence.  Elano who was dubbed as the ‘free-kick king’ by fans just couldn’t find his touch and failed to convert 3 free-kick chances.

The half ended with the visitors leading 1-0.

SECOND HALF

The half started brightly for both teams and within minutes saw attack shifting from one end to the other. In the 46th minute Kolkata were handed a body blow then Jofre was shown a second yellow card for simulation when he appeared to brought down in the Chennai penalty area by Gouramangi Singh.

Both teams were now on level playing terms, Rafi and Mendoza were the lone strikers for their teams. Kolkata’s visibly reduced going forward and tried to hold onto the ball for longer depending mainly on counter attacking runs and the rare long range shot. Borja’s caught the Chennai keeper napping and his brilliant long range attempt from well within his half tested Bracigliano.

Chennaiyin were playing with a high backline and risked standing exposed during counter attacks by over committing players in attack. The duo of Silvestre and the omnipresent Mendy saw off some tense moments intercepting through balls and clearing crosses.

Menawhile Kolkata didn’t see much of the ball but for a few counter attacking moves, Josemi was shown a yellow card for his foul on Elano on the 52nd minute- it was Atletico de Kolkata’s 4th booking of the game.

The Kolkata side were playing most of the game in their half and were succeeding in tiring out the Chennai lads who had been doing extra work since the sending off of Shilton.

By the 70th minute Chennai had 14 shots on target as compared to just 5 by Kolkata and made it cleat that they were trying to hold on to their lead by the inclusion of Pradhan (a defensive midfielder) in place of Sahni.

Chennai, however, didn’t seem look like they were giving up and continued to test the Kolkata defence mainly via Mendy and his barrage of runs through the opposition midfield. Materazzi brought on Jeje Lalpekhlua to get some fresh legs on the pitch for the home side.

To match this, Kolkata brought on striker Arnal Llibert who induced some pace into the game for the visitors who were only just hanging on to their one goal lead.  The Chennai team were able to stretch the Kolkata team and find the gaps in their midfield and defence.

The late substitution of central midfielder Denson Devadas and introduction of Balwant Singh seemed to have been the master stroke by Materazzi but the striker’s attempted cross to Jeje bounced off the post much to the disappointment of the home crowd.

ELANO’S LATE EQUALISER

Just as the match was heading towards what looked like a 1-0 win for the table toppers a rash tackle form Kingshuk Debnath who brought down Mendoza in the Kolkata penalty box earned Chennai a penaltyin the 92nd minute. The tournament’s top scored Elano was entrusted with the task of salvaging a point for the home team. The Brazilian did just that, sending the keeper the wrong way and deposited the ball in the right corner of the net.

Kolkata would have felt cheated after all they just had to see off the last 2 mins of the game to extend their lead at the top of the ISL table. Chennai coach Marco Materazzi said that though he was hoping for a win  the draw was acceptable, considering how the match panned out.

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