Chennaiyin FC dominate ATK but lose by solitary goal

Chennai, October 30, 2019: Chennaiyin FC succumbed to a first home defeat of the 2019-20 Hero Indian Super League season when they lost out by a narrow 1-0 margin to fellow two-time champions ATK at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here today. David Williams scored for the visitors in the second half as Chennaiyin created a flurry of chances but failed to take any.

Lithuanian striker Nerijus Valskis started for CFC upfront, the only change to the starting eleven that drew against Mumbai City FC three nights earlier. He came in for Maltese forward Andre Schembri.

And Valskis could have given CFC an early lead when he rose highest to head an Edwin Vanspaul cross in the 3rd minute, but his effort went just over the bar. It was an open start to proceedings, as ATK looked a threat on the counter with the potent forward duo of Roy Krishna and David Williams.

Valskis was again at it in the 9th minute, this time missing a gilt-edged chance, when he was set up by Rafael Crivellaro from the left flank. On the edge of the six yard box, Valskis failed to tap home with the goal gaping, only managing to get a meek touch that took it wide of the far post.

As the game neared the half-hour mark, Anirudh Thapa and Dhanpal Ganesh had a couple of efforts that went straight into ATK keeper Arindam Bhattacharya’s grateful arms. Both teams were showcasing invention and resolve going forward but lacked the telling touch in the final third.

Right-back Edwin and Lallianzuala Chhangte on the left flank continued to foray into the ATK box, both proving livewires. Just before half time, Edwin’s commanding run down the right was ended illegally by Carl McHugh, only for CFC to waste the subsequent free-kick with substandard delivery into the box.

ATK landed CFC the sucker punch just after the break, Williams scoring from a rather fortuitous deflection against the run of play. Prabir Das’ cut back found Javier Hernandez, whose shot on goal deflected off Lucian Goian, diverting into Williams’ path for an easy tap in.

With the hour mark approaching, CFC made the first change as forward Andre Schembri came on for winger Dragos Firtulescu. Couple of minutes, Edwin went centimetres from drawing level, when his stinging long range strike just curled away off target.

Another local lad in Michael Soosairaj, donning ATK colours, had an eventful evening in the left wing-back position, but was forced off with an injury as the last quarter of the game approached. Former CFC midfielder and ISL title winner in 2015 Jayesh Rane came on instead.

Chennaiyin continued to create chances and continued to falter in front of goal. Schembri this time was guilty of spurning a huge opening, when he was put through one-on-one with Arindam by Thapa, only to drag the shot agonizingly wide of the far post.

CFC huffed and puffed in the closing stages but the precious goal remained elusive, as the Marina Machans remained winless and goalless in ISL 2019-20, suffering a narrow 1-0 loss to ATK.