The hosts fought back from a goal down to earn a point.
Yugo Kobayashi and Beautin Antony scored in either half as Chennai City and Aizawl played out a draw at the JLN Stadium on Saturday evening (February 3, 2018).
Soundararajan continued with under-fire French forward Jean-Micheal Joachim up front, with Soosairaj acting as the playmaker in behind. Charles Anandraj and Pandiyan Srinivasan lined up in the double pivot with Schumeiko and Dharmaraj being paired in the centre of defence.
Yugo Kobayashi and Andrei Ionescu combined up front for the defending champions. Paulo Meneses made wholesale changes after their tough trip to Iran for the AFC Champions League encounter against Zob Ahan.
Aizawl came out of the blocks very quickly and took the lead in the third minute of the match. Andrei Ionescu got past his marker on the right before getting into the box and squaring a good cross to pick out Yugo Kobayashi who tucked a neat finish into the net.
Chennai responded reasonably well with a lion’s share of possession for the next 15 minutes. Jesuraj’s teasing cross into the box from the right provided Edwin Vanspaul with a golden opportunity to head in an equaliser but he sent his header wide.
The home side had a lucky escape when Ionescu’s curled effort from outside the box struck the crossbar and went out at the half-hour mark.
Edwin held on to the ball inside the box before picking out the clever run of Charles in behind the defence but the midfielder lacked composure as he blasted the ball into the stands, summing up Chennai City’s first half.
David Lalrinmuana’s free-kick into the box from the left met Yugo Kobayashi’s feet but the woodwork denied Aizawl yet again.
Failure to convert chances hurt Aizawl as Chennai City snatched an equaliser in the 73rd minute. Laldinliana’s failure to intercept a through-ball from Soosairaj allowed substitute Beautin Antony to drive into the box and slot the ball home.
Both teams failed to create clear-cut chances towards the end of the game and had to settle for a point as the referee brought the interesting match-up to an end.
Chennai City will host Mohun Bagan next on 7th February whereas the defending champions will fly back to Goa to clash their swords with Churchill Brothers FC Goa a day before.