Arch-rivals Chennaiyin FC and Bengaluru FC had to settle for a point each in their Hero Indian Super League (ISL) encounter that ended 1-1 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai. Roy Krishna scored inside five minutes to give the Blues an early advantage but Prasanth Karuthadathkuni scored at the stroke of half-time to restore parity. The Marina Machans finished the game with ten men after goalkeeper Debjit Majumder was sent-off late in the second half.
It did not take long for the first goal as Roy Krishna silenced the stands of the Marina Arena in the fourth minute. From the right flank, Siva Narayanan bent a cross into the box with the outside of his right foot. Krishna nestled the ball into the Chennayin FC net with a sublime glancing header. From there on, it was the home team that took control of the game for large parts of the game.
The Marina Machans had a marvellous opportunity to square things up in the 15th minute. Ajith Kumar cut the ball back from inside the box to Prasanth Karuthadathkuni. The midfielder’s strike was straight at Gurpreet Sandhu, who caught the ball with ease. Had the shot been placed on either side of the goalkeeper, Chennaiyin would have been level.
In the 26th minute, Karuthadathkuni wriggled into the Bengaluru FC box before getting thwarted by the defence. The ricochet flew towards Petar Sliskovic who rattled the crossbar with a close-range volley. Less than five minutes later, Krishna went down in the box, under pressure from Fallou Diagne. The striker was livid after the referee did not point to the spot.
After Bengaluru FC’s opener, Chennaiyin FC kept the ball well but could not apply the decisive touch in the final third. Five minutes from half-time, Jiteshwor Singh swung in a perfectly weighted ball into the Bengaluru box from the right side before Sliskovic’s header was brilliantly saved at point-blank range by Sandhu.
The pressure paid off in the final minute of first-half stoppage time. Sliskovic beat his marker and put Karuthadathkuni through on goal. The former Kerala Blasters man beat the offside trap and made no mistake in putting the ball past Sandhu with the last kick of the first half as the Marina Arena came back to life.
Jiteshwor and Sliskovic seemed to be on the same wavelength for the majority of the game. The duo combined well in the final third causing problems for the Blues’ defence. Four minutes into the second half, Jiteshwor found Sliskovic with a well-timed through-ball. The striker’s goalbound shot was saved by Sandhu. Three minutes later, Sandhu produced another good save to deny the Croatian, after he headed the ball on target from Jiteshwor’s cross.
In the 79th minute, substitutes Ninthoinganba Meetel and Kwame Karikari combined and almost gave the host’s the lead but Karikari’s strike was saved by Sandhu. Eight minutes from time, Chennaiyin FC were reduced to ten after Debjit Majumder took Krishna out just outside the box and received his red card.
Iranian defender Vafa Hakhamaneshi took over goal keeping duties for Chennaiyin FC till the full-time whistle. In the third minute of stoppage time, Karikari sprinted towards the Bengaluru goal before firing his shot high.
The Marina Machans will stay in Chennai for their next game against FC Goa on 21st October, Friday. The Blues will be on the road again as they visit defending champions Hyderabad FC on 22nd October, Saturday.
Report- Pratyusha Mukherjee