Chennaiyin FC opened their AFC Cup campaign on winning note as they beat Nepalese side Manang Marshyangdi 2-0 in the Group E match to go top of the table in the South Asian group. Coming tired after the Super Cup final defeat to FC Goa, John Gregory had made five changes to his side.
Goal from midfield Christopher Herd and centre-half Mailson Alves saw the two-time ISL champions go to the top of the table as the Marina Machans registered their first ever victory in the fcontinental competition.
It was a tricky task for the side as they were playing their fifth match in sixteen days and the side had to make quite a few changes after a hectic Super final against FC Goa saw the side lose 2-1 over the weekend.
Chennaiyin were without their Brazilian midfielder Raphael Augusto, who had suffered an injury in the last match, which forced Gregory to line up a 4-3-3 setup, as wide forwards Thoi Singh and Mohammad Rafi attacked with veteran Jeje Lalpekhlua in the centre.
The wingers did their job brilliantly, especially Thoi who combined with Jeje well on the right, as Laldinliana Renthlei kept up the tempo with his unparalleled stamina. The full-back created the first chance of the game inside 23 minutes for Rafi inside the box but he failed to keep it on target.
Manang only had one real chance in the first half when Sujal tested Karanjit Singh from a free-kick, but to no avail. However, the second half was going to change things and it started with a strange one as fourth official Yu Ming-Hsun replaced Oman's Qasim Al-Hatmi on the field.
Herd gave the hosts the lead in the 51st minute after receiving the ball from Rafi inside the box. He did well to go past a defender before lobbing the ball over goalkeeper Bishal Shrestha, who was way out of his line. If that wasn’t enough, CFC doubled the lead two minutes later through skipper Mailson Alves, who headed the ball in from Anirudh Thapa's corner kick.
Manang could have reduced the deficit for the Chhiring Gurung's men had substitute Abhishek Rijal managed to keep the ball in from Heman Gurung's long ball inside the box. But, Rijal could only place onto the outer top-netting. CFC looked dangerous in the last few minutes with Jeje and Vineeth having their moments but it was only reduced to good chances.
After the first two group matches, CFC and Bangladesh's Abahani Dhaka have both earned four points although the Indian side leads on goal difference.