Bith managers seemed pleased to have come away from a tough game with a point.
Kerala Blasters shocked Marina Arena on Friday night as they scored a last-gasp equalizer to draw 1-1 with Chennaiyin FC in the Indian Super League and despite conceding a penalty unfairly, coach Rene Meulensteen claimed that his team had earned a crucial away point.
“There’s only one way to gain confidence: winning,” said the Dutch coach. “[After our victory over NorthEast United], we’ve had another good performance here today. It took a penalty for them to score and besides that, they hardly created anything that bothered our goalkeeper. We had the best chances. We had a very good performance. We should have gone one-nil up from the chance that Jackichand [Singh] missed.”
“I thought we defended well and waited for our opportunities. Chennai are at the top of the table for a reason and, in hindsight, I’m glad that we earned a point in Chennai. It’s a good away point.”
Indian Super League referees have come under the microscope as of late. The former Manchester United assistant coach chimed in on the discussion, as he stated that the officials need help. “Chennai’s penalty threw a spanner in the works, and it wasn’t even a penalty to begin with,” he said. “The referee gives it, and a lot has been said about the standard of referees and linesmen.”
The officials can’t have such impact on the result for, at the end of the day, it can decide if a team has had a successful season when you look back. I know it’s a very difficult job, and they need help. They must want to be helped and coached. I see instances every week, and I think it’s time to address that.”
John Gregory was his usual humble self, as he admitted that Kerala deserved to earn a point in Chennai. “It’s no more than they deserved,” he said. “We were fortunate to get a penalty. We normally run down the clock pretty well. I think there was a mix up during the throw-in as my players thought it was ours, and it was given to the opposition. Kerala made the most of the chance. It was unfortunate to concede late. It wasn’t a great football match, to be fair. Both teams didn’t want to lose for a lot of reasons.”
Seven of Chennai’s 12 goals this season have come in the last 10 minutes of the game, and the former Aston Villa coach admitted that being on the other end of a late goal didn’t feel good. “The game lacked incidents and goal-scoring opportunities,” he said. “It could have gone against us. They could have gone ahead. You got the feeling as the game went on that neither team was going to win.”
“We didn’t play well tonight, but we managed to get a point. That will teach us a lesson, probably. We’ve done that – scoring late goals – to a lot of teams. We’ve been given a taste of our own medicine here, and it doesn’t taste nice.”
“The players are extremely disappointed. It should teach us a lot of lessons. We need to be more alert in the last couple of minutes. We did it against Bengaluru, but we didn’t quite hang on tonight. We could have lost the other night against Bengaluru and won tonight, but I’m glad we’ve made four points in two games.”
Talking on talisman Raphael Augusto’s performance, he said, “We didn’t keep the ball as we’d done in the previous games. Raphael Augusto did a good job, and they did well to keep him away from the goal, with Wes Brown and the rest of their midfield doing a good job. Our three substitutes had a decent amount of impact. Generally, it was a disappointing outcome, as we essentially lose two points in the last minute.”