Marco Materazzi led Chennaiyin FC redeem themselves 5-1 after a dizzy performance in the capital, thrashing a toothless Mumbai City side featuring Nicolas Anelka.
Mumbai City FC started with their traditional 4-2-3-1 formation with Nicolas Anelka the star attraction. While the Frenchman led the line, Raju Gaikwad slotted in as Center Back and ‘Didika’ operated on the wings. Meanwhile, Chennaiyin FC boasted their own marquee player, as Marco Materazzi laced up his boots, making his first playing appearance for the ‘whistle podus’. Chennaiyin lined up in a 5-3-2, as Jeje replaced Balwant Singh and Mendoza, who had impressed earlier with his performance against Delhi Dynamos, started alongside him. It was evident that Chennaiyin’s 5-3-2 would actually operate as a 3-5-2 attackingly, with Silvestre, Materazzi and Gourmangi making up the three defensive pillars.
Hyped as a Materazzi vs Anelka duel, the first 10 minutes were full of action provided by both the stars on the pitch. Marking Anelka, Materazzi operated primarily as a center back due to the Frenchman dropping deep but the Italian also drifted into the midfield whenever an opportunity presented itself. The opening minutes witnessed Elano coolly slotting home a penalty for Chennaiyin FC, as a rash Manuel Friedrich tackle on the bombarding Valencia Mendoza prompted the referee to point to the spot.
Minutes later, Manuel Friedrich was at the center of the action at the opposite end as he miscued a free header wide off Shilton Paul’s goal. Both Valencia Mendoza and Jeje, however, proved to be more than a handful for the crumbling Mumbai defense, as these two regularly pestered Mumbai’s half, pressing higher up the field.
As Materazzi advanced into the pivot, Elano further advanced into the creative midfielder role, operating behind Jeje and Mendoza. This move was rewarded as an Elano long ball found Jeje, who converted his chance sweetly past Subrata Paul.
Leading 2-0 even before the half hour mark, Chennaiyin FC decided to drop deep and attack on counters, utilizing the speed of forwards Jeje and Mendoza. A 41st minute Elano spot kick, which was saved adroitly by Subrata Paul, rebounded to Mendoza who finished in the back of the net to extend the hosts’ lead further.
As Mumbai decided to push higher up the field and deployed a high line, Harmanjot Khabra delivered an inch perfect through ball for Mendoza, who successfully broke the offside trap and chipped goalkeeper Subrata Paul to take the hosts into the half time break leading 4-0.
In the second half, manager Peter Reid surprisingly introduced defender Tiago in place of Didika. While Chennaiyin FC sat comfortably, reverting to their five men defense and inviting pressure, a toothless Mumbai attack rarely found ideas to penetrate Chennaiyin’s defensive line.
Nicolas Anelka dropped deep and created chances for Subhash but the latter rarely threatened Shilton Paul’s goal. A 62nd minute header which whiskered past Chennaiyin’s goalpost was the closest Mumbai came to scoring in the first 20 minutes of the second half.
Minutes later, a free kick earned deep into Mumbai’s final third by Mendoza, was pierced into the visitor’s goal by Elano to complete his brace.
Leading 5-0, Chennaiyin committed men behind the ball, whilst relying on counter attacks for attacking intent, as Mumbai continued to enjoy their share of possession but could only manage to move the ball sidewards and backwards as Chennaiyin’s resolute defending and bodies behind the ball prevented the visitors from making any headway.
A late consolation goal for Mumbai came via a corner that was headed in by skipper Syed Rahim Nabi, but it was clearly a case of too little too late.
With this win, Chennaiyin FC lift themselves into second place and two points behind leaders Atletico de Kolkata, while Mumbai City FC drop to sixth.