ISL 2021-22: Chennaiyin FC leapfrog to third place with win over NorthEast United FC

Margao, Jan 22 (PTI): Chennaiyin FC rode a second-half blitz to move to third position in the points table as they heaped more misery on NorthEast United FC with a 2-1 victory in the Indian Super League here on Saturday.

Laldanmawia Ralte helped NorthEast United take the lead in the 35th minute before Ariel Borysiuk (52nd) and Vladimir Koman (58th) got Chennaiyin back in the game within a space of six minutes.

The result meant Chennaiyin have now jumped to third place from seventh with 18 points from 12 matches while NorthEast United remain at the foot of the table having collected just nine points from 13 games.

Chennaiyin started the game on the front foot, displaying some eye-catching passing football and keeping the rival defenders on their toes.

Nerijus Valskis warmed Mirshad Michu’s gloves early on as the blue shirts seemed to play with more purpose.

Against the run of play, Laldanmawia Ralte broke free but wasted an opportunity to spoil Chennaiyin’s applecart.

But Laldanmawia did not have to wait long to atone for his mistake as he found the back of the net albeit fortuitously in the 35th minute.

Debjit Majumder was to blame under the Chennaiyin bar for coming off his line unnecessarily and conceding a corner. Off the flag-kick, Majumder was again caught on the wrong foot as he flapped down the ball unconvincingly into the danger area for a lurking Laldanmawia to slot home.

At half time, NorthEast United led 1-0 and also looked to turn the tide after Chennaiyin dominated the first half-an-hour.

But in the second half, Chennaiyin took the game by the scruff of the neck with Rahim Ali putting the ball in the path of Borysiuk whose tame effort deflected off Sehnaj Singh’s right boot to go inside.

Things took a turn for the worse for the Highlanders as keeper Michu looked in a lot of discomfort but coach Khalid Jamil decided to keep him on until his poor outing cost them the second goal.

Koman’s free-kick missed everyone as Michu ventured out of his line to see the ball go past him and into the back of the net. Subhasish Roy Choudhary replaced Michu.

Stung by the twin setback, Jamil sent star forward Marcelinho, who joined NorthEast United in the January transfer window, in for Laldanmawia in the 64th minute and the Brazilian made an immediate impact with his jinking runs and cutting edge in the final third.

Marcelinho tried his luck from range to just send his effort wide before his delicious corner found Patrick Flottmann whose header came off the post with his rebound flying over the bar.

Hernan Santana blew a golden opportunity closer to full time when he sent a free header off target from a Marcelinho corner before Majumder redeemed himself with a double save from Marco Sahanek and Imran Khan on the rebound.