RAFAEL Crivellaro was looking for that perfect pass. Surrounded by NorthEast United FC players, the Brazilian looked like giving away possession a few steps away from the half-way line. But then, the 30-year-old had other ideas. His eagle-eye vision saw NEUFC keeper Subhasish Roy Chowdhury off his line. Crivellaro took a wild swing and scored a Golazo to put the home side in front in the 57th minute. In an otherwise dull match, that magical moment changed everything.
On any other day, Nerijus Valskis’s second goal would have been termed the same. Two minutes after Crivellaro’s wonder effort, Andre Schembri was through on goal. While it looked offside, no flag was raised. The Malta striker hit straight at Roy Chowdhury. The rebound fell to Kai Heerings, but the Dutch defender’s lazy clearance fell to Valskis. The Lithuanian took a touch before curling it into the top corner to seal the deal for Chennaiyin FC at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Thursday.
“Rafa is very aware... Today, that goal alone was worth the money. We created many chances. Yes, we could have finished some. But I would be worried if we were not creating,” said Owen Coyle, Chennaiyin coach.
The match started franctically. NEUFC’s new No 9 Andrew Keogh almost scored with his first touch when he was sent through by Martin Garcia. If not for keeper Vishal Kaith, the hosts would have trailed. Two minutes later, Lallianzuala Chhangte shot straight at the keeper.
Early signs suggested a high-scoring affair. In the fifth minute, Valskis missed a sitter. Crivellaro found Chhangte at the edge of the area on the right. The No 7 cut back and even a slight touch would have put Chennaiyin in front. But he went for power and the ball bounced off the post.
In terms of chances created, Chennaiyin were ahead. Schembri, Valskis and Chhangte missed sitters. But it was as if Chennaiyin wanted only the spectacular! In the 10th minute, Edwin Sydney Vanspaul hit a 40-yard thunderbolt, only to be denied by Roy Chowdhury’s fingertips.
It was the same story in the second half. Chennaiyin and NEUFC tried their best to break the deadlock. But with two world-class goals in two minutes, Chennaiyin bagged three points. It looked like they were going to score more. But that was it. But Chennaiyin wouldn’t mind. The win helped them climb two spots to sixth on the table.
Bagan merge with ATK
Mohun Bagan will be called ATK-Mohun Bagan from next season after it sold the ISL outfit majority stake. The merged club will come into existence in June and compete in ISL 2020-21.