CHENNAI: The last time Chennaiyin FC and Kerala Blasters met each other, the game produced nine goals with the Supermachans thrashing their southern rivals 6-3.
It's a new season but with the kind of players on either side of the pitch, goals were expected to flow when these two met again on Sunday. And while it was a hotly-contested affair with enough drama right till the end, the game ended in a goalless stalemate.
Chennaiyin have dominated this fixture having won six out of the fifteen matches so far and while Blasters have won just three against the two-time champions, this would feel like a victory. Besides dealing with the onslaught by the formidable frontline of Chennaiyin for the first thirty minutes of the game, they also survived a penalty in the 75th minute when Chennaiyin forward Jakub Sylvester's penalty was saved by Blasters custodian Albino Gomes.
When the game got underway, the Blasters backline was put under severe pressure by the likes of Esma Goncalves, Rafael Crivellaro, Anirudh Thapa and Lallianzuala Chhangte.
Chennaiyin had done their homework on Blasters and were not allowing them to play out from the back.
On many occasions, Gomes was at fault for giving away goal scoring chances to the prowling Chennaiyin attackers as his passes were getting intercepted. With better finishing, they could have killed the game off in the first half-hour itself.
After the drinks break, Blasters re-grouped and had a few chances of their own with their midfielder Rohit Kumar testing his former Pune City FC team-mate Vishal Kaith from distance.
By the time half-time approached, Chennaiyin were left to rue their chances and they were not able to maintain the same tempo after
Blasters started enjoying more of the possession but neither side looked threatening and were cancelling each other out until the penalty for Chennaiyin in the 75th minute which gave them a massive opportunity.
Blasters skipper Sergio Cidoncha brought Crivellaro down in the box after Chennaiyin had quickly broken for a swift counter-attack.
Their Slovakian forward Jakub Sylvester, who has the big boots of Neirjus Valskis to fill, stepped up to take the spot kick.
His shot was kept out by Gomes who pulled off a diving save to keep his team in the game.
Blasters looked unconvincing in the final third and didn't create chances, but they managed to salvage a point from the jaws of defeat. After blowing up a 2-0 lead against NorthEast United, their coach Kibu Vicuna would at least be satisfied with the defensive resilience.
As for Csaba Laszlo, the Chennaiyin gaffer knows that when his players hit peak fitness levels and game sharpness, they will be more clinical and ruthless.
Results: Chennaiyin FC 0 drew with Kerala Blasters 0