ISL Analysis | Chennaiyin FC’s robust defence ends Pune’s winning run

ISL Analysis | Chennaiyin FC’s robust defence ends Pune’s winning run

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ISL Media

A patient Chennaiyin side kept their 100% defensive record against Pune City intact as they struck late through Henrique Sereno to emerge victorious at the Balewadi Stadium. FC Pune City came close to scoring with a series of attempts by Alfaro and Marcelinho but fell just short in the end.

Goalkeepers continue to struggle

The fourth campaign of ISL has seen a new trend of goalkeepers floundering at their post time and again and in certain cases, handing out open goals to the opponents as gifts. Delhi Dynamos’ Albino Gomes and more popularly FC Goa’s Laxmikant Kattimani have led the charge so far with epic blunders, which have cost their side not only points but, at times, even games.

Today’s game was no different as the custodians at both ends remained edgy throughout the 90 minutes, leaving their defence to deal with some precarious situations. Pune’s Vishal Kaith made the first such mockery of himself as early as the 21st minute when he rushed out of his line to clear a ball and totally misjudged its flight that went past him. However, the low pace on it allowed him to get back in time.

His second one came in the 64th minute when Jerry Lalrinzuala swung a cross towards the far post and Kaith’s attempt to collect the ball and went haywire yet again, before Rafael Lopez made a heroic goal line save. Chennaiyin’s Karanjit Singh, though not that critical, did show callousness on his end, but a wasteful FC Pune City couldn’t take advantage of it.

A solid defence takes home visitors

FC Pune City have been one of the best sides in the ISL so far with their ability to create chances thanks to their able and experienced attack up front. Chennaiyin knew that they have to attack from the back foot when visiting their den and they executed their strategy to perfection.

Chennai’s back four was quintessential in their win against Pune today with the likes of Inigo Calderon, Henrique Sereno, Mailson Alves and Jerry Lalrinzuala pulling off a whopping 21 clearances, 6 interceptions and 3 blocks to keep out a Pune side, who kept on attacking incessantly throughout the game.

Dhanpal Ganesh, who had to sit deep at the back in their last game providing his backline with an extra cover on every counter attack that their opponents could muster, was more on the creating role today with an impressive 85% passing accuracy and even managed to get a shot on goal. Pune have a poor record against Chennaiyin, against whom they have never won a game so far in the history of the tournament and neither have they managed to keep a clean sheet. And Chennaiyin’s defence ensured it remained that way as it was centre half Sereno who scored winner.

The Showstopper

With Chennai’s defence the biggest highlight of the game, Henrique Sereno was definitely the star for the visitors. The skipper made sure none of players faltered in the backline and also scored the winner with a towering header, from which Pune couldn’t get back.

Though it was Mailson Alves, who got the most of number of clearances (10) today, Sereno’s position was top class that hardly gave Marcelinho or Emiliano Alfaro any space to make runs in behind. Not only was he superior in the air, but was clever enough not go up on an adventurous run as he was wary of his lack of pace against Pune’s swift counter attacks.

With a passing accuracy of 67%, Sereno made sure that his side didn’t have to deal with any unnecessary pressure that would catch them off-guard and had to throw his body in the line to get a booking when he realized Alfaro was clear at the goal in the 50th minute.

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