ISL 2016 | Kolkata and Chennaiyin share spoils in see-saw match

ISL 2016 | Kolkata and Chennaiyin share spoils in see-saw match

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© ISL media

In the match-up between the two past ISL champions, Atletico Kolkata fought back to draw 2-2 against Chennaiyin at Kolkata today. Atletico were the better side for most parts of play, but defending champions Chennai managed to sneak 2 goals in 4 minutes before Atletico drew par in the 86th minute.

Defending champions Chennaiyin FC played their first match today against Atletico de Kolkata at the Rabindra Sarovar Stadium with the Salt Lake stadium being prepared for the U-17 World Cup. Chennaiyin looked much less imposing with the departure of both their stars, Stiven Mendoza and Elano Blumer, and Marco Materazzi promptly started with two forwards for the match. It is tough replacing the tournament's all-time top-scorer. On the other hand, Kolkata had reason to feel confident as their marquee player, Helder Postiga, who missed the whole of last season after an injury in their first match, was back in their ranks.

Chennaiyin FC XI: Dwayne Kerr, Mehrajuddin Wadoo, Bernard Mendy, John Arne Riise, Nallapan Mohanraj, Hans Mulder, Raphael Augusto, Jayesh Rane, Baljit Sahni, Jeje Lalpekhlua, and Davide Succi.

Atletico de Kolkata XI: Debjit Majumder, Pritam Kotal, Arnab Mondal, Tiri, Robert Lalthlamuana, Javi Lara, Borja Fernandez, Bikramjit Singh, Sameehg Doutie, Iain Hume, and Helder Postiga

Kolkata dominate but fail to go ahead

Atletico began the match on the ascendancy as they tested the Chennaiyin defence in the second minute. However, Sameehg Doutie took an attempt, instead of passing it on to an unmarked Iain Hume, only to see it sail well above the cross bar.

Soon, Chennaiyin received a chance of their own. After Baljit Sahni was brought down, John Arne Riise stepped up to take the free-kick from a dangerous spot, but his shot found the underside of the Kolkata crossbar and bounced off.

In the 22nd minute, Jeje took a shot at goal, but Debjit, who had been suspect until then, did well to save Atletico with a dive.

Chennaiyin's Nallapan Mohanraj, who started in place of the reliable Dhanachandra Singh, was having a torrid time since the beginning as Doutie and co looked to attack on his side. In the 27th minute, Nallappan almost gave Kolkata a goal when he blundered to give the ball away. However, Doutie and Postiga ran ahead before the Portugese striker ended up spraying the ball.

Atletico again had an opportunity when Postiga found Doutie in a lot of space but Doutie's attempt ended up safely in Chennaiyin goalkeeper Kerr's hands. The last five minutes of the first half saw a flurry of half-chances and corners for the hosts, but Kolkata failed to capitalize on them as the match went into half-time at 0-0.

Kolkata breakthrough

Kolkata began the second half immediately with a bang – Helder Postiga stole the ball from Chennaiyin skipper Mendy and raced forward to pass to Lara, but Riise was back in time to clear the ball. Kolkata squandered the resultant corner before the hosts wasted another corner in the 10th minute of the half.

But the home side, finally, found the deserved breakthrough, and it was Helder Postiga who was the architect. The Portugese's lovely effort found Doutie left unmarked by the vulnerable Mohanraj, and Doutie's right-footed shot found the net past an onrushing Kerr. 1-0 in the 59th minute!

The period also saw a flurry of yellow cards for Chennai, who were struggling defensively- John Arne Riise, Jayesh Rane, and Bikramjit were the culprits.

Chennaiyin surge ahead

However, Jayesh Rane more than made up for it soon. Chennaiyin, who had been the lesser of the two teams until then, suddenly attacked with more intent and were rewarded soon. In the 66th minute, Jeje received the ball 25 yards from the goal, and made a half-hearted attempt at goal. However, the scuffed shot perfectly found Rane, who was running in from the left, and the midfielder made a lovely run across the goal before sending it past a diving Debjit. 1-1.

In four minutes, Chennaiyin made it 2-0 when Hans Mulder's shot at goal found a deflection off Tiri and changed direction to the left side of the goal just past the outstretched hands of Debjit. Absolutely unlucky, but Chennaiyin were up 1-2.

Kolkata pull back

Four minutes later, Kolkata almost drew par when Hume, left unmarked on the left, took a shot but his kick to the far post missed the goal by a few inches. Kolkata were denied once again when, in the 77th minute, Borja crossed the ball from the right to an unmarked Hume at the far post (again), but his header went straight to Kerr's hands.

Kolkata finally managed the equalizer in the 86 minute off a penalty. At the end of the 84th minute, Doutie, who advanced at the ball with his back to the goal, was fouled by Jerry, who had come in for Nallappan, and the referee pointed to the spot. Iain Hume stepped up to take the penalty and found the bottom left corner of the net to make it 2-2!

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