AFC Cup 2019: Chennaiyin defeat Manang Marshyangdi, Minerva Punjab hold Dhaka Abahani
Written by: AFC Cup
The Marina Machans are currently at the top of the table while the Warriors are third in Group E.
Chennaiyin FC moved to the top of Group E in the 2019 AFC Cup after the Indian side defeated Nepal’s Manang Marshyangdi Club 2-0 at The Arena Stadium on Wednesday.
Both teams went into the Matchday Two encounter looking to pick up their maiden win in the AFC Cup and, indeed, aiming to score their first goal in the competition.
After a scoreless opening 45 minutes, it was Chennaiyin’s overseas players who proved the heroes as quick-fire goals from Australian Chris Herd and Brazilian Mailson Veriato early in the second half secured all three points.
Chennaiyin took control of the early proceedings and had their first sight on goal just after the five-minute mark but Jeje Lalpekhlua saw his effort from 10 yards deflected narrowly wide.
Watch: Chennaiyin FC 2-0 Manang Marshyangdi Club highlights
Although the home side dominated the possession in the ensuing 25 minutes, they struggled to create clear-cut chances, but Mohammed Rafi shot just wide from the centre of the area after being picked out by Renthlei Laldinliana’s low cross from the right shortly after the half hour mark.
The visitors had a rare sight on goal in first-half stoppage time but Sujal Shrestha curled his free-kick from 25 yards into the arms of goalkeeper Karanjit Singh as the sides went in level.
John Gregory’s Chennaiyin again came out stronger after the interval and broke the deadlock in the 51st minute when former Aston Villa player Herd’s attempt from 20 yards deflected off Saheed Azeez and looped over goalkeeper Bishal Shrestha into the back of the net.
The hosts then doubled their advantage almost immediately after when captain Mailson headed home Anirudh Thapa’s corner from the right to open up a two-goal lead.
Manang came close to pulling one back midway through the half but Abishek Rijal’s looping header went just over the bar after the substitute had been picked out with an inch-perfect ball over the top from Gurung Heman.
Rijal was again unlucky late on when his acrobatic effort following Kamal Shrestha’s delivery was tipped wide by custodian Singh as the Nepalese side were condemned to back-to-back defeats.
Chennaiyin now sit above Abahani Limited Dhaka on goal difference after the Bangladesh side drew 2-2 with India’s Minerva Punjab in Wednesday’s other Group E clash.
Sunday Chizoba served notice of the home side’s intent when he fired a shot just wide in the first minute. Just a minute later Mahmoud Al Amnah responded with a powerful strike from distance that Shahidul Alam did well to touch over.
A touch of quality almost put Minerva in front when Al Amnah’s deep cross from the right was brilliantly controlled by Samuel Lalmuanpuia before he curled just wide of the top-right corner.
It took just a couple more minutes for the visitors to take the lead when a low cross from Makan Winkle Chote was turned in by Al Amnah in the 16th minute.
Watch: Abahani Limited Dhaka 2-2 Minerva Punjab FC highlights
Abahani soon responded and they equalised just four minutes later when Sohel Rana’s cross was forced in by Nabib Newaz.
The home side then saw Chizoba’s shot well saved by Bhaskar Roy before the follow-up was cleared off the line.
Kervens Belfort found Chizoba after a surging run through the middle and the Nigerian made space for a shot but fired just over from 20 yards.
Minerva then regained the lead after a dreadful defensive error in the 42nd minute. A misplaced pass across the 18-yard line was seized upon by substitute Sreyas Gopalan who smashed the ball into the corner.
But early in the second half, the hosts equalised for a second time. Waly Faisal’s free-kick from the right came back off the bar and rebounded off a defender before Chizoba forced the ball home from a yard out.
Kalif Alhassan almost scored a spectacular third for Minerva but his long-range volley flashed wide.
Newaz came close to his second of the game when he curled an effort narrowly wide just after the hour mark.
With 14 minutes remaining, Gopalan’s header went just over and the visitors missed a better chance moments later when Amandeep Singh shot tamely wide from an excellent position.
Newaz then shot into the side-netting from close range and there was one final chance for the hosts but Belfort headed just over in the dying minutes.
Abahani face another Indian opponent when they travel to play Chennaiyin on April 30. Meanwhile, Minerva welcome Nepal’s Manang Marshyangdi Club on May 1.
Published: Thu Apr 18, 2019 01:45 PM IST