Chennaiyin FC 0-0 Kerala Blasters
The South Indian Derby end with a goalless draw.
A goal-less stalemate in Chennai. No real goal scoring chances. However, the game ends on a poor note as Belfort and Blasi have an argument.
The first South-Indian derby of the third season of the Indian Super League (ISL) failed to live upto expectations and light up the Diwali night of the twenty-three-thousand odd in attendance.
Kerala Blasters stick to the same team that defeated FC Goa away with Michael Chopra deemed fit to start. Hengbart and Hughes were the CB pair while Kervens Belfort, Mohammed Rafi and Chopra assumed the attacking mantle.
Marco Materazzi made five changes to the team that drew 1-1 against FC Pune City. Skipper Bernard Mendy returned to the starting line-up, as John Arne Riise was on the bench. Karanjit Singh, Raphael Augusto, Baljit Sahni and Davide Succi were the other changes to the team as their goalscorer in the previous game, Jeje Lalpekhlua, missed out.
Chennaiyin were certainly approaching the game with gusto as Augusto and Succi were making their presence felt. Their incessant pressing from the front was creating problems for Hughes and Hengbart, who were finding it difficult to play out from the back.
The game exploded into life in the 25th minute when Sabia was left unmarked during a corner but his header was blocked by a wall of yellow. Immediately, a long ball from the back found Succi in behind the Kerala defence down the right and he delivered an acrobatic cutback. With Dudu waiting to pounce, Hughes was on hand to head it over for a corner. Off the succession of corners that followed, one fell to Mendy who evaded a lunging defender but agonisingly toe-poked it into the side netting, with the unsighted half of the stadium erupting in joy.
Both teams went in to the break level but Materazzi would certainly have been the happier of the two coaches, while it looked certain that Coppell would have some stern words for his men.
Kerala Blasters raced off the blocks in the second half, clearly the gaffer’s pep talk working. They could have taken the lead in the 47th minute when Sandesh Jhingan’s deliciously floated-in ball just evaded Rafi.
But the attacking impetus shown soon faded away and the game settled into a dull routine with Chennaiyin also not threatening much.
It was the visitors who were pressing hard for a goal and soon Nazon saw a shot go straight to Karanjit. Bizarrely, the play was stopped in injury time after a spectator rushed on to the field. He had to be escorted off the field and the game ended in a stalemate. There were unsavoury scenes at the end when Belfort appeared to spark a brawl between the two teams.
Both teams will be disappointed to have not taken all 3 points.