Brazilian winger Marcelo Pereira was the cynosure of all eyes as he struck a brace in Delhi Dynamos 3-1 win over defending champions Chennaiyin FC at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Chennai, on Thursday. Badara Badji put the match beyond Chennaiyin FC’s reach with the third goal in the 86th minute.
Playing their first match this season, Delhi Dynamos turned on the magic with Marcelo, better known as Marcelinho, scoring two goals for his side in the first session after Dudu Omagbemi had briefly cancelled his 26th minute goal. Badara Badji put the match beyond Chennaiyin FC’s reach with the third goal in the 86th minute. Chennaiyin FC are without a win from their first two matches after drawing the opening match against Atletico de Kolkata.
Playing at home for the first time, the defending champions started with a flurry but could not break the deadlock. In the eighth minute, Raphael Augusto spotted Mohanraj’s run from the left who crossed for Dudu but the Nigerian striker’s header sailed just wide. Bernard Mendy then went close in the next minute with another header and Jeje Lalpekhlua had his chance to draw first blood but could not beat Delhi goalkeeper Toni Doblas from close range.
Delhi soon recovered from the initial Chennaiyin FC push and moved ahead in the 26th minute after Milan Singh won a penalty. Milan spotted a long cross from Souvik Chakraborty and was making his run when he was brought down by Chennaiyin FC goalkeeper Duwayne Kerr. Marcelinho stepped up to take the penalty and sent the goalkeeper the wrong way. Chennaiyin FC, however, did not take too long to draw level. Dudu was afforded space by the Delhi defence and he made them pay by latching on to a through ball from Jeje and slamming it past a diving Delhi goalkeeper in the 32nd minute.
Chennaiyin FC were now back in the game but Delhi took they by surprise again two minutes later as Marcelinho hoodwinked the rival defence and gave Kerr no chance with a first-time attempt. Had Delhi converted the chances that came their way after being 2-1 ahead, the match would have been killed at the half-time whistle itself. Kean Lewis missed a golden chance with only the goalkeeper at his mercy as he shot wide and then Marcelinho took one touch too many, allowing Chennaiyin FC goalkeeper to grab the ball and keep his team in the hunt.
In the second session, Delhi Dynamos were comfortable with the ball and rarely looked threatened. Chennaiyin FC, on the other hand, tried to find a way past the rival defence without much success. Sensing that he needs to do something different, manager Marco Materazzi opted to field three strikers for the last 20 minutes of play but instead it were Delhi Dynamos who tasted success. Delhi made it 3-1 with six minutes left on the clock when a Kean Lewis cross from the left was finished with a thumping header by substitute Badara Badji.
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