India international Jeje Lalpekhlua was the lone goal-scorer for Chennaiyin FC, as they booked their place in the semis of the Indian Super League with a 1-0 win over hosts FC Pune City at the Balewadi Stadium on Saturday.
Chennaiyin FC came into the match needing only a draw, but 24-year-old Lalpekhluaa s 64th minute goal is bound to give some pleasure to people affected in the floods in Chennai as they piped NorthEast United FC to the top four spots.
Chennaiyin, though will have some bad news to deal with, as both Elano Blumer and Mehrajuddin Wadoo will miss the first leg of the semis through suspension after picking up their fourth yellow cards.
Both teams had made quite a few changes for the match, with FC Pune City looking to end their season on a high, while Chennaiyin had an opportunity to seal their place in the semis meaning the match got off to a brilliant start as both teams looked to play with an attacking intent.
Despite Chennaiyin having a host of chances, the Super Machans failed to take the advantage in the first half despite a shaky start from the Stallions in the back.
Neither teams was able to break the deadlock before the half-time whistle, but both sides renewed their assault on opponenta s goal in the second half with new vigour after, inputs from their managers during the break.
The deadlock was finally broken by the Mizoram player on the 64th minute when Stiven Mendoza passed it for Jeje, who finished the chance in second attempt after Govin Singh did well to stop the forwarda s initial attempt, but Jeje was on hand to slot home the rebound after reacting the quickest to give the Super Machans the lead.
Elano, though, was in search for a penalty on the 54th minute and had gone down a bit too easily for the refereea s liking, as he was in close proximity and instantly dashed out a yellow card to punish the Brazilian, who will now be missing the first leg of the semi finals.
Mehrajuddin Wadoo, who has been ever present in the Chennaiyin defence, too will miss out the first leg of the semis for needlessly accumulating his fourth yellow card of the season due to time-wasting during the dying embers of the game.
Having scored the goal, Marco Materazzi’s side concentrated on their defence to keep FC Pune City from scoring the equaliser.
Defending champions Atletico de Kolkata, FC Goa, Chennaiyin FC and Delhi Dynamos FC are the four teams to make it to the play-off stages of the season 2.
The first leg of the first semi-final match kick-starts on December 1
Image Courtesy: ISL Media