A host of other domestic stars also put in solid performances for the Marina Machans against the Islanders.
Chennaiyin Football Club ended the league stages on a high note, as they defeated an eliminated Mumbai City 1-0 despite playing a second-string side in Chennai on Saturday night. Rene Mihelic, one of the few first-string Chennai players on the pitch, converted from the spot, after former Chennai captain Mehrajuddin Wadoo had brought Jaime Gavilan down following a mistimed tackle. With the win, Chennai climbs to the second spot, thus avoiding Bengaluru Football Club in the last-four fixtures.
Here’s how the Indian players fared:
Pawan Kumar– 8.0
With Karanjit Singh undroppable, the 27-year-old former Bengaluru goalkeeper hardly had any minutes, but he showed against the Mumbai attack that the Marina Machans do have a top-class back-up option, as he made numerous saves that helped Chennai keep their slender lead.
Fulganco Cardozo– 6.0
The lanky Goa defender hardly made any negative contribution, but he didn’t impact the game positively as well. What showed that he, a former India international defender, lacked match fitness big-time was his losing aerial duels to a much shorter Sanju Pradhan. Much to his luck, the Mumbai defence failed to capitalize on his shakiness.
Keenan Almeida– 7.0
Making seven clearances and one successful tackle, his contribution was detrimental to Chennai keeping a clean sheet after a long time. His contribution, though, wasn’t limited to the defensive side of his game, as he completed 73 percent of his passes, with some of them even starting attacks that undid the Mumbai defence.
Dhanachandra Singh– 7.0
Although he lost his place in the starting line-up after a poor display on an opening day, he, on the final league game, highlighted why Chennai chose to sign him. With a last-ditch tackle on four minutes, he ensured that Pawan Kumar didn’t have to face the daunting task of having to go one-on-one with Balwant Singh.
Bikramjit Singh– 6.0
With Chennai making eight changes to the line-up, he was tasked with bringing cohesion to the team, and he did exactly that. While his being his usual enthusiastic self-meant the second-string side weren’t short of passion, his movement off the ball and positional awareness meant he’d keep his place in the teamsheet. That said, he lasted only an hour, as he was replaced by Baoringdao Bodo.
Germanpreet Singh– 7.0
Playing alongside the omnipresent Balwant Singh, he often looked invisible, but he did his part well until the end of the game, making interceptions and forming a link between the backline and frontline effectively. He ensured that Chennai won the midfield battle although Leo Costa and co. did have their moments.
Thoi Singh– 7.0
The under-utilized versatile man had a decent showing, as he rendered the Mumbai wingers futile. He was excellent during the defensive phases and contributed immensely in the attacking half as well, as he sent in superb crosses that the Chennai attackers failed to convert. The final few minutes saw him make a few errors, though, as Mumbai pressed on for an equalizer.
Mohammed Rafi– 7.0
Although he ended his rare start goalless, he did enough to be in the coach’s reckoning ahead of the semi-final clashes. Many, after the game, even argued that his being brought down in the penalty area in the first half should have earned the home side a penalty.
Anirudh Thapa– 6.0
The youngster had immediate impact after coming on as a substitute, as he injected vibrancy into the Chennai team that had looked tired. Besides providing Jaime Gavilan and co. much-needed support in the attack, he provided the makeshift defence more-needed stability, as he regained possession in dangerous positions.
Sanjay Balmuchu– 5.0
Brought on to offer more support to the defence, he did his job to a tee, man-marking Mumbai’s Cameroon striker Achille Emana Edzimbi for the little time he was on the pitch. Coach John Gregory rightly praised him in the post-match conference, stating “he never put a foot wrong” despite never making even the bench all season.
Arindam Bhattacharya– 6.0
Mihelic fabulously attempted a free-kick but Arindam proved to be solid
Although he ended up conceding the only goal that settled the game, he was one of the key reasons why Mumbai looked to be in the game until the goal. The first half saw him make a crucial save when Chennai forward Jude Nworuh had only him to beat before pulling off a similar save when Mohammed Rafi looked to bury one into the net from seven yards out.
Mehrajuddin Wadoo– 5.0
The Kashmir-born former Chennai right-back had a forgettable return to Marina Arena, as he gave away the penalty that Chennai’s Rene Mihelic converted after being owned by the Chennai wingers for the majority of the game. Worst came to the worst as he was stretchered off the pitch, with almost 20 minutes left.
Wadoo’s tackle led to the penalty for Chennaiyin
Raju Eknath Gaikwad– 6.0
The India international had a quiet game. He didn’t win an eye-catching tackle or send in delicious crosses, but his decent positioning meant that Chennai’s wide players didn’t dominate his flank.
Sanju Pradhan– 7.0
One of the liveliest Mumbai players on the night, he was everywhere in the attacking half. Forming a superb partnership with Zakeer Mundampara, he made menacing runs that his Kerala midfield partner often picked out. However, he failed to break down Chennai’s last line of defense as his team ended goalless at 90 minutes.
Zakeer Mundampara– 7.0
Despite playing just 60 minutes, the former Chennai City midfielder often made defence-splitting passes that, in turn, helped his teammates be in positions where they could create chances. His defensive shift was as good as his attacking game, as he won the ball back in crucial positions, sometimes in the Mumbai’s penalty area.
Balwant Singh– 6.0
Balwant Singh thought he had equalised in the dying minutes but it was disallowed
His performance against his old side was similar to his international career. There were moments when he looked the best Indian forward to play at Marina Arena this season. However, other times, he was in the pocket of Chennai’s makeshift defence, who had never started a game together before.
Davinder Singh– NA
He didn’t impact the game much.
Sehnaj Singh– NA
He didn’t impact the game much.