Hrishi Anand discusses three talking points about the Indian Super League game that finished Chennaiyin 3-2 ATK
Chennaiyin FC continued their great run of form as they edged ATK 3-2 with a flurry of goals late into the game. The result left the home side sailing to the top of the table and capped off a well-fought performance.
Cautious Approach from both sides
Chennaiyin FC were on a good run of form coming into the game. Two consecutive wins had the home side in 2nd place in the table while their counterparts from Kolkata were yet to pick up a win under Teddy Sheringham. Surprisingly, Chennaiyin FC were quite cautious from the onset. John Gregory’s side were satisfied with maintaining possession and looked to hit ATK on the counter. Kolkata were unwilling to risk much in attack either, perhaps due to a lack of confidence. With star striker Robbie Keane on the bench, the ATK attack didn’t really trouble a solid Chennai back-4 too much. Sheringham’s side lacked creativity in the final third, which meant that the service to Finnish forward Njazi Kuqi was largely limited. Chennaiyin looked a threat on the counter as they sought to expose an ATK defense which was playing a quite high defensive line. A positive for ATK was the cohesion of their defensive. ATK’s defense was under scrutiny following their winless run but Kolkata’s defense were quick to snuff out any possible CFC attack. The second half continued in similar fashion as neither side had an efficient performance in the final third of the pitch. However, CFC went ahead through a well-rehearsed set piece situation finished by Jeje for his first goal of the campaign. ATK equalized through Branco but the nature of both goals illustrated the style of the game as a whole, with chances few and far between.
Teddy Sheringham needs a new plan
ATK’s appointment of Teddy Sheringham was rather surprising considering the former Manchester United player’s lack of managerial experience. This inexperience has been laid bare in ATK’s ISL campaign thus far. Against CFC, Kolkata offered virtually nothing to trouble Chennai’s defense. The foreign players in attack, Njazi Kuqi and Jose Branco were particularly disappointing as they lacked a chemistry with each other and with the Indian players in the side. In defense, the performance was far more positive as Prabir Das and Keegan Pereira were able to keep the pacey Chennaiyin wingers quiet for most of the game. Center back duo of Thomas Thorpe and Jordi Montel were effective in dealing with the CFC frontline until a poorly cleared set piece was scrappily turned home by Jeje for CFC. Sheringham needs a solution to his attack’s goal drought as soon as possible as they seem to be devoid of a dynamic presence or any creative influx. ATK managed to equalize through Jose Branco, offering much needed relief to Sheringham but the goal did little to nullify ATK’s overall average performance. ATK’s fight in equalizing in the 88th offered little solace to conceding the winner in the 91st minute.
Chennaiyin winning like potential champions
‘Potential champions must know how to win ugly’ is a common narrative for any team pipped for the title. CFC managed to do exactly so as they scored in the 91st minute thanks to Jeje’s second goal of the night. The home side were dominant in possession but missed the presence of Raphael Augusto who missed out through injury. Defensively, John Gregory will be disappointed with the two goals conceded but another late winner to earn all 3 points leave CFC at the top of the table and on a fantastic run of form. In attack, Jeje came to life as the forward scored his first goals of the campaign, including the winner in stoppage time. CFC are playing some solid football as a unit, moving possession about well, communicating with each other in defense and playing to their strengths in attack. A great cohesion between the foreign players and their Indian counterparts is another impressive achievement for coach Gregory given the short period of time elapsed. The experience of the likes of Henrique Sereno and Inigo Calderon, defensive solidity of Dhanpal Ganesh and Bikramjit Singh and the speed of Jeje and Nelson have CFC with a balanced and capable side. Playing like potential champions indeed.
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