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Valiant Kolkata go down fighting as Chennayin advance to ISL final

Photo Courtesy: ISL's official website
Photo Courtesy: ISL’s official website

Chennaiyin FC’s 3-0 win over Atletico de Kolkata in the first leg of the semifinals in Pune proved enough as the Royal Bengal Tigers fell short at the Salt Lake stadium, despite winning the game 2-1.

Kolkata’s Dejan Lekić opened the scoring in the 22nd minute, before Ian Hume added another in the final minutes of the game. However, Fikru Teferra pulled one back for Chennai right at the death to put the final out of Kolkata’s grasp.

Antonio Reyes Habas made two changes to the side that was beaten 0-3 in the first leg, with Nallappan Mohanraj and Lekic replacing Ofentse Nato and Borja Fernandez respectively

Marco Materazzi also opted to make two chances as Elano Blumer and Mehrajuddin Wadoo came in for Zakeer Mundampara and Bruno Pelissari respectively.

The hosts got a good chance to take the lead in the 4th minute, when Lekic, after doing well to control the ball and lose his marker, had a go from distance. However, his effort did not bother Edel Bete as the ball sailed over the bar.

Four minutes later, the visitors had their first chance as Elano’s corner was just headed over by Mailson Alves.

In the 11th minute Stiven Mendoza, after dribbling past Arnab Mondal, tried his luck from outside the box. Although his effort was swerving, Arminder Singh was able to make a good save.

A couple of minutes later, Lekic played a wonderful pass to pick out Ian Hume in a very good position on the left side of the box. However, before the Canadian could muster an effort, Bernard Mendy made an excellent tackle to steal the ball from the forward’s feet.

Kolkata finally broke the deadlock in the 22nd minute through Lekic. Mendy, who had been looking very sharp so far, made a grave mistake, as he attempted a headed pass back to his goalkeeper. The pass, which was very poor, was intercepted by Hume, who easily poked into the back of the net.

Moments later, the hosts nearly doubled their lead, but Edel produced an excellent save to keep out a deflected effort from Arata Izumi.

Just before the half hour mark, Jeje Lalpekhlua, after controlling a long ball from the midfield, fired a good effort that forced an uncomfortable save from Amrinder.

The visitors got another good effort in the 34th minute, after they were awarded a free-kick in a very dangerous position, following Gaivilan foul on Mendosa. Elano stepped up, but his free-kick was only able to find the side netting.

With four minutes remaining in the first half, Sameehg Doutie found himself in a one-on-one situation with Edel. The South African immediately fired an effort, but Edel made a superb save to keep the aggregate score 3-1 in Chennaiyin’s favour.

Five minutes after the break, Mohan whipped an excellent delivery towards Lekic, who tried to nod the ball towards Sameehg Doutie inside the box. However, before the ball could reach Doutie, Mailson was able to clear Lekic’s pass.

At the hour mark, Edel made another superb save to prevent Kolkata from further narrowing the first leg deficit. Gavilan whipped in an excellent corner from the left and Tiri connected with a powerful well directed header towards goal. However, Edel was able to keep out Tiri’s header with an absolutely brilliant reflex save. The rebound fell to Lekic, but Serbian blasted the ball into the stands.

A couple of minutes later, the home side got another good opportunity, after Hume was brought down by Wadoo in a dangerous position. Although Lekic’s free-kick was blocked by the wall, the rebound fell to Hume, who quickly flicked the ball towards Arata. The Japanese-born midfielder immediately fired an effort, but his shot was blocked by a Chennaiyin defender.

In the 70th minute, Chennaiyin defenders failed to deal with a cross from Rino Anto, and the ball eventually found Doutie. The South African was able to get a shot away, but his effort was wide of the target.

Seven minutes later, Jaime Gaivilan picked out Hume with a good pass, and the Canadian international moved into a very good position, after getting past Zakeer. Hume eventually fired an effort, but Edel was able to make an easy save.

Gaivilan tried his luck from the edge of the box in the 80th minute, but his effort had too much power in it, as the ball sailed over the crossbar.

Atletico de Kolkata’s continuous attacks again paid dividends as they managed to further reduce their first leg deficit in the 86th minute. Hume, after combining well with Dejan Lekic outside the box, found the nets with an absolutely stunning volley that flew beyond Edel into the top corner of the net.

Just when it looked like Kolkata were going to score another and cancel out the first leg deficit, Fikru Teferra (their former striker) crushed their hopes as he pulled a goal back for Chennaiyin in the 90th minute. A poor throw-in from Amrinder saw the Ethiopian nick the ball from Arnab Mondal and advance forward, before slotting the ball into an empty net.

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