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Battle of table-toppers end in draw

By EMN Updated: Nov 04, 2014 10:31 pm

Chennai, November 4

Luis Garcia’s first half penalty was cancelled out by an Elano spot-kick in injury time with both sides being reduced to ten men.
The home side decided to make a couple of changes replacing forward Jeje Lalpekhlua and injured right-back Jairo Suarez with the Haitian forward Jean-Eudes Maurice and Dhanachandra Singh respectively. Atletico de Kolkata welcomed back their skipper Luis Garcia from injury who joined goalkeeper Apoula Edel Bete and forward Mohammed Rafi in place of Cavin Lobo, Subhasish Roy Chowdhury and Arnal Llibert respectively. Elano captained Chennaiyin FC as Bojan Djordjic again started on the bench with Garcia, his opposite number in that role. The side from Kolkata were still missing star striker Fikru Tefera due to suspension.
Kolkata opened Chennaiyin up in the 3rd minute through Garcia’s precision through ball on the left-side to Jofre, whose first-time low cross flashed across the face of the goal dangerously with Shilton Paul scrambling but thankfully for the home side, Mohammed Rafi did not get on the end of it.
The Chennai custodian was caught off his line again a couple of minutes later by Garcia’s long-range lob which he did well to push out for a corner after losing balance. The Spaniard very much looked in the mood after being sidelined for a couple of games.
This was not a typical Chennaiyin whirlwind start to the game with Kolkata making them work hard for any joy in front of goal. A well-worked move in the 11th minute saw the new recruit, Maurice’s header loop over Edel Bete’s goal from a Gouramangi Moirangthem cross.
In the 18th minute, the ball fell kindly to Denson Devadas in the middle of the park. The midfielder volleyed the ball on the up as the shot went just over Edel Bete’s cross bar.
A tussle on the half-way line between Maurice and Josemi was enough to spur the home side and support on as a couple of minutes later Elano was taken down by Jofre in what’s become the Brazilian’s free-kick territory. His effort however went centimetres above the left-upright, tarnishing his near perfect scoring record from free-kicks within that range.
Then on the 31st minute, things went terribly wrong for Chennaiyin FC against the run of play as Borja’s long ball forward caught Silvestre and Mendy sleeping as Rafi raced in behind and went one-on-one with Shilton Paul. His meek attempt was cleared off the line by Silvestre but play was pulled back by the referee for Paul’s challenge on Rafi resulting in a penalty and a red card for the goalkeeper.
Chennaiyin players argued vociferously with the referee as Bracigliano replaced the unlucky forward Maurice. The Frenchman though couldn’t keep out Luis Garcia’s perfect left-footed spot-kick giving the away side the lead.
Elano was at it again when another of his free kick from the arc outside the penalty area in the 43rd minute went painstakingly close to Edel Bete’s left-upright. The Brazilian turned away in agony as Mendy then made a mazy run right before half-time, beating four players with ease but failing to test Edel in goal.
There was drama right from the restart as Kolkata looked to enforce their one-man advantage. But that was not to be the case as honors were even in terms of personnel on 47 minutes as Jofre Mateu was sent off for a second bookable offence for diving in the box under pressure from Gouramangi.
It was a harsh decision given there was clear contact from the Chennaiyin defender on Mateu but the referee took a different view.
It was 10 against 10 from then on as the home side were handed a lucky break and it was anybody’s game again. The home side tried to make the most of the change in momentum as Mendy bombed forward in search of the equalizer. He was felled by Borja and the resulting free-kick from Elano was pouched comfortably by Edel Bete.
As the game crossed the hour mark Chennaiyin kept coming at Kolkata but the away side stood firm. There was a personal battle brewing between Denson and Garcia with the former constantly nipping at the former Liverpool star’s heels.
With the last quarter of the contest to go, Atletico had a chance to double their advantage as Nato’s lobbed ball found Sahni who was thwarted by Mendy’s excellent sliding challenge just as he was about to pull the trigger.
Sanju Pradhan came on for the penalty winner Rafi as the away side looked to shore up the midfield and see the game out. Borja then had a go from the center circle seeing Bracigliano off his line, but the Frenchman doubled back and made a save using the support of the upright.
With 15 minutes to go, Materazzi took himself off to add more attacking thrust with Jeje coming on. Kolkata too reacted in similar fashion as their goalscoring skipper Luis Garcia went off for another Spaniard, the striker Arnal Llibert.
Chennaiyin then threw everything at Kolkata with 10 minutes to go as Balwant Singh came on for Denson who had a relatively low-key day at the office. The wily striker made an instant impact with his right-footed curling effort from the far right beating Edel Bete but going out off the left-upright.
At the start of injury time as Elano’s cross was headed away by Mondal to the right of the penalty box. The onrushing Mendoza got a touch on the ball just before Kingshuk came clattering into him, leaving the referee with no option but to point to the spot.
Elano continued his streak from 12 yards out by sending Edel Bete the wrong way to level the scoreline with a perfect penalty into the top corner.
The referee blew the final amidst huge relief and uproar for the Chennaiyin home support as the home side salvaged a well-deserved point in the dying embers of a tightly contested and controversial game of football.

By EMN Updated: Nov 04, 2014 10:31:36 pm