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ISL 2023-24: Chennaiyin FC grab late winner against NorthEast, keep themselves ahead in playoffs race

Published at :April 9, 2024 at 11:05 PM
Modified at :April 9, 2024 at 11:05 PM
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(Courtesy : ISL media)

Khel Now

NorthEast United knocked out of the playoffs after this defeat against Chennaiyin in a dramatic ISL clash.

Chennaiyin FC sent NorthEast United FC crashing out of the playoffs race with a 2-1 victory against the Highlanders at the Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium in the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 tonight.

With both teams edging for the vacant sixth spot in the standings, the Juan Pedro Benali-coached side took a decisive step forward, thanks to the goal by the in-form Jithin MS. However, two late strikes by defenders Ankit Mukherjee and Aakash Sangwan helped the Marina Machans secure their third straight win.

Chennaiyin FC are peaking at the right time, and they now stand at 27 points from 21 matches in the competition. With 23 points from as many matches, NorthEast United FC cannot catch up to them even if they win their only remaining fixture against Odisha FC. With 24 points and a match left to play, East Bengal FC are still in the tussle for the sixth spot with Chennaiyin FC.

Jithin MS has been one of the most in-form NorthEast United FC attackers in the last few games and he teed up with his teammate Parthib Gogoi admirably to draw the first blood after a listless opening half of the game. As the Highlanders pushed Chennaiyin FC behind with a quick offensive move, their forwards took positions accurately centred by the sprinting Jithin. Parthib is known to be lethal from distance but he curbed those instincts perhaps factoring in the greater interests of the team. His pass for Jithin was well weighted, and he did well to deposit it into the Chennaiyin FC net in the 49th minute.

Parthib’s awareness on this instance was perhaps a result of his two earlier failed attempts at hitting the target from outside of the box. In the 23rd minute, his shot missed hitting the net by a slight distance, with the ball flying over the crossbar. Sixteen minutes later, Redeem Tlang trusted Parthib on the edge of the box, laying off a pass for the youngster whose attempt at goal was blocked.

However, Chennaiyin FC recovered rhythm as the game entered its final 20-odd minutes. Their equaliser came arguably in the most unlikeliest of ways, with Aakash Sangwan’s attempt from the corner somehow getting lobbed into the back of the net on the bottom left corner to help Chennaiyin FC restore parity.

The Marina Machans steadily increased the intensity thereafter, with their domestic forwards at the centre of it all. Rahim Ali and Irfan Yadwad kept winning fouls, trying hard to make something out of set-pieces. However, as the clock hit the 91st minute mark, Rahim spotted Mukherjee in a goal-scoring position on the right side of the box. The fullback collected the assist delicately, before putting the ball into the bottom left corner to secure three points for Chennaiyin FC.

Key Performer of the Match

Ankit Mukherjee (Chennaiyin FC)

The fullback completed 11 out of his 18 passes, winning two tackles, making a couple of crosses, intercepting once, and bagging the eventual winner of the contest.

What’s next for both teams?

Chennaiyin FC will play next against FC Goa on April 14, whereas NorthEast United FC return to action against Odisha FC on April 13.

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