Jeje stars with brace for Chennaiyin as Gaurs bow out of ISL after 4-1 aggregate loss
Defensive frailties came to haunt Gaurs again as FC Goa were knocked out of the Hero Indian Super League after a 3-0 loss to Chennaiyin FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai.
Both the sides came into the contest having scored a goal each in Goa with Chennai scoring an important away goal. The Gaurs needed to score in Chennai to progress to the final and came out firing on all cylinders. Mandar Rao Dessai had an early chance but his weak shot didn’t trouble the Chennai defence. Thereafter, the home side went on to score through Jeje Lalpekhlua’s header in the 26th minute and then landed the sucker punch, scoring another header through Dhanpal Ganesh three minutes later. The Gaurs were unable to break down a resolute defensive unit and Chennai capitalized on the situation to net a late third goal through Jeje to virtually end the contest, giving them an emphatic 4-1 aggregate win.
The Gaurs started the first half in scintillating fashion, pushing forward at every opportunity in a bid to get ahead in the contest. They fashioned a number of chances in the early minutes but were unable to capitalize and take the lead. The first proper chance came in the 5th minute when Mandar Rao Dessai ran on to Narayan Das’ forward pass and crossed low into the box. The ball landed at the feet of Jerry Lalrinzuala who almost turned it into his own net. Four minutes later, Mandar shot from the left but the shot was blocked by Mailson Alves. The Gaurs really should have had the lead in the 11th minute when Ahmed Jahouh found Hugo Boumous with a peach of a through ball. The Moroccan beat the offside trap and smartly squared it for Mandar whose weak shot at the near post was blocked by Henrique Sereno. Had he done any better, the Gaurs would have had the lead.
Sergio’s men had another chance in the 14th minute when the Gaurs were given a free-kick from a good position just outside the box after Dhanpal Ganesh fouled Ferran Corominas. Manuel Lanzarote stepped up and curled an effort towards the far post which was just about tipped away by Karanjit Singh in goal. Next, it was Sana Singh who had the opportunity to head home when he was found by a Lanzarote cross but he somehow headed it wide. However, after a busy opening spell for the Gaurs, they were pegged back twice in three minutes after two defensive lapses. Gregory Nelson began to cause the Gaurs all sorts of problems on the left side. Sergio Juste’s poor defensive lapse in the 26th minute allowed Jeje to get on to the end of Nelson’s cross to power a header past a hapless Naveen Kumar in goal.
Three minutes later, the lead was doubled when free-kick from the left side was curled into the box. Sana’s poor marking allowed Ganesh to get on to the end of the cross to power home. This gave the Gaurs a mountain to climb as time in the first half ticked by. Mandar had yet another chance to pull one goal back in the 42nd minute after a clever back flick from Boumous but Karanjit pulled off a stunning diving save to keep out the Goan’s near post lash. The Gaurs were getting desperate and began to make a few errors in defence. However, the Marina Machas were unable to capitalize and score a third that would have surely killed this tie.
It was more of the same in the second period. The Gaurs started well once again and could have had a goal back in the opening minutes when Seriton Fernandes got beyond Jerry and attempted to curl one in with his left foot. However, he didn’t get the connection right and the ball sailed wide. Four minutes later, Jahouh picked out Coro with a peach of a long ball. But the Spaniard’s first touch took him wide and his weak left footed effort was blocked easily. The home side were doing very well to soak up the pressure and counter-attack the Gaurs.
Sergio brought on Brandon Fernandes for Narayan Das before the 60th minute mark and then threw on Ali Mohammad and Mark Sifneos for Pronay Halder and Sergio Juste in order to give his attack more impetus. The men in blue however, were holding firm and defending resolutely. Jahouh’s 75th shot on target stung the palms of Karanjit who managed to make the stop. The Gaurs were forced to attempt shots from outside the area due to the packed Chennaiyin defence. Despite all their forward movement however, it was the home side that were creating the better chances. For the Goans, time was running out quickly and they had to do something.
The Gaurs had yet another chance in the 86th minute when Coro was fouled in a good position outside the area. Lanzarote stepped up and curled an effort towards the near post. The ball looked like it would creep in but Karanjit dived in its path and tipped it away once again to save his side. With time running out, the resilient Chennai side managed to score a third and end the Gaurs’ hopes. Substitute Jaime Gavilan evaded a couple of challenges and played it through for Jeje. The ball took a deflection off Ali and landed perfectly for the Mizo sniper who sidefooted it past Naveen with ease to effectively end the contest.
Chennaiyin FC will go on to face Bengaluru FC in the summit clash of the Hero Indian Super League on 17th March 2018. The Super Machas have made it to their second final appearance in four seasons after having won the tournament against the Gaurs in the second edition of the tournament.