It was a tale of two penalties for either side, one missed and the othedr scored.
A first half of two penalties — one scored and one missed — decided the outcome of the Indian Super League (ISL) match between Jamshedpur FC and Chennaiyin FC, with the latter emerging 1-0 winners in a closely-fought contest here on Thursday evening.
Just when it seemed the first half would be remembered for a flurry of half chances, the referee pointed to the spot when Mehtab Hossain took a tumble in his own box and handled the ball in the process. Jeje Lalpekhlua sent Subrata Pal the other way with a smart penalty for his fourth goal of the season, and it turned out to be the difference between the two teams.
But the drama was hardly over in the first period when the referee awarded a very soft penalty at the other end. Chennaiyin manager John Gregory was fuming at the touchline and was sent into the stands for his reaction, but Kervens Belfort’s effort was saved brilliantly by Karanjit Singh. It was the closest that the home side would come to equalising because the impending 45 minutes were a cagey affair with lots of mistakes from attackers in the final third. The best moment came from Jeje himself, but he blasted over in the dying seconds from Germanpreet Singh’s pass.
Watch: Jamshedpur FC 0-1 Chennaiyin FC highlights
Apart from the penalty, Jamshedpur’s defence held firm in the first half but there was more action for their attackers. It all started with Mehtab Hossain finding space down the right, but the impending shot from Belfort was well saved by Karanjit. Youngster Jerry Mawhmingthanga had the second chance of the match minutes later, but his effort was just wide, this time the cross had come from Souvik Chakrabarti as Jamshedpur fired a few warning shots.
An interesting strategy throughout the game was that of holding a very high line whenever Chennaiyin would get a deep set-piece. Jamshedpur’s aerial prowess meant they got away with it on most occasions, but the tactic from Steve Coppell was pretty clear.
Jerry Mawhmingthanga was in the mix again, this time his fizzing pass almost found Souvik but the other Jerry on the pitch — Lalrinzuala — made a well-timed tackle to thwart the home side going ahead. It wasn’t as if Chennaiyin didn’t have their chances. There was a soft penalty shout and a few good crosses, but decision-making in the final third wasn’t as sharp as expected. As it is, before the match, the side had scored nine out of their 12 goals in the second half and hardly produced the goods in the first 45. This time, though, they managed to get their noses ahead and kept it that way.
Chennaiyin’s win means they are four points clear on top of the table now, but have played two games more than second-placed FC Goa. It also means they’re unbeaten in three games now. As for Jamshedpur, their solid defence was finally broken — not from open play — but from a needless penalty. They still have the enviable record of conceding just two goals in seven matches