The first South Indian Derby ended with a Mendy Stunner sealing the game for Chennaiyin FC against Kerala Blasters, in a game full of high tempo, scuffles and appealing refereeing decisions.
Making their intentions clear from the first minute itself, whilst missing a clear goal scoring opportunity, Chennaiyin FC started with the solid defensive setup of Mikael Silvestre, Gourmangi Singh and Bernard Mendy. Balwant Singh, the only Indian Goal Scorer in the Indian Super League, led the ‘Whistle Podu’.
Kerala Blasters, meanwhile, under the watchful eyes of Sachin Tendulkar, omitted Micheal Chopra and decided to start with Iain Hume and CS Sabeeth. David James started in goal, with Sandesh Jhinghan operating as a makeshift Left Back.
Chennai, running high on Fan applause and support, started with guns blazing. After Balwant Singh, missed a sitter, the ‘Men in Blue’, regularly created and tested the defensive line of Kerala, in the opening minutes. Admist Heavy blows and flying tackles, Gurwinder received the first caution of the day, with eight minutes on the clock. Minutes later, a blazing Abhishek Das run onto the right bi-line was cut short by a mistimed Gurwinder tackle, which although escaped a second booking, resulted in an awarded penalty.
A calm and composed, Elano, stepped up and slotted a cool left sided penalty, beating Kerala’s Marquee keeper David James, to give the home side, a deserved lead.
After a flying start, Chennai started to wither out as Kerala developed their roots into the game. What followed was a period marked by regular Kerala attacks and constant Chennai resistant. With Chennai dropping deep and the midfield being marshaled by Harmanjot, Kerala found it almost impossible to break their goal scoring drought in this tie.
The half time was marked by an injury scare to Sandesh Jhinghan, who undoubtedly was the best player on the pitch, for the visitors. Chennaiying FC led Kerala Blasters by a goal to nil, at halftime.
Five minutes into the half, saw Kerala break their barrier, as Iain Hume blasted a volley straight into goal, through a distraughted corner. Justifying his Goal scoring abilities, Hume cleverly bagged a ‘poacher’s goal’.
As scuffles and fights constantly broke out, both teams found it difficult to indulge into creating their dominance. Kerala Blasters, substituted Penn Oriji for Micheal Chopra, to open a goal scoring outlet. Ironically, against the run of play, Bernard Mendy pulled the cat out of the hat, scoring in a Rooney-esque, bicycle kick style, after a decent ball in by Harmanjot.
A period of ‘end to end’ stuff followed, as both teams often reverted to high balls and long diagonals. The dying embers of the game, were marked by a back pass and a penalty shout by Kerala, as Kerala committed men forward in order to steal a point against their rivals.
With the Chennaiyin defense standing resolute, Kerala found it hard to break the defensive barrier and succumbed to a 2-1 defeat. A win marks two in a row for the Chennaiyin Contingent, leading them to six points, where as defeat for Kerala guides them to their second defeat.