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3-2

              Plaza 38′          Sandro 29′
                                      Manzi 69′
Lorougnon 50′      
Plaza 71′        

  

 

Well, Chennai City now have to reserve their celebrations for another day. Churchill Brothers showed much more urgency and passion going forward, driven on by the brilliant Willis Plaza and co. Churchill could’ve easily scored 3-4 goals more in the game and completely exposed Chennai’s defensive frailties. The league leaders couldn’t showcase the beautiful football they have all season and were bullied by the Red Machines. Akbar Nawas now has a lot of thinking to do and needs to calm his side to deny any kind of a last-minute stumble when history is within their grasp. East Bengal are biggest winners from this, as they’re now four points behind Chennai with a game in hand. With this thrilling result ,the I-league season is assured to have another grandstand finish. This is Uttiyo Sarkar, signing off for Khel Now. Good night, ladies and gentlemen!

90+4′ Edwin does a great job in playing a great long ball to the left to Nestor, who tries to go past Wayne Vaz but is stopped valiantly. That might just be it for the game!

90+2′ Nicolas Fernandes shows amazing determination and speed to go past Romario multiple times, but runs out of steam in the end after moving into the box. 

90′ Another promising move from the left by Chennai, when Ajithkumar nutmegs a player before crossing it. Edwin comes racing forward but ends up handling the ball. Meanwhile, five minutes of added time is announced. 

89′ Sandro gets three bites at producing the perfect cross, but each of his attmpt is thwarted by Churchill Brothers. Moments later, Romario sends in a cross from the right which meets Manzi’s head, but is saved by Bhutia. 

88′ A cynical foul from Gurung brings down Nestor just outside the box in the left flank. Promising position for Chennai. But can they get one back in the dying moments? 

86′ Gurung almost with an instant impact. He gets the ball from the left, dummies a defender before taking a shot which is saved. However, Chennai mount a brilliant counter-attack which ends with Pedro Manzi scoring, but is judged offside. That looked very tight!

85′ Sandro Rodriguez picks up a yellow card for dissent and arguing with the referee after not having a challenge go his way. 

84′ Israil Gurung comes on for Chesterpoul Lyngdoh in Churchill Brothers’ second substitution of the game. 

83′ Regin Michael goes down writhing in pain after being on the end of another crunching challenge. However, Chennai City keep on playing and a ball is played to Manzi, who is cornered away by Martins and his cross is easily latched onto by Bhutia. 

80′ A great chance is conjured by Chennai City’s Spanish stars, when Nestor lobs a ball to Sandro inside the box. The midfielder finds him back in the middle, but Nestor’s shot is blocked. Despite calls of handball from Chennai’s players, the referee doesn’t give a penalty. 

78′ CHANCE WASTED! A fantastic counter-attack is lodged by the hosts when Chesterpoul passes it to Plaza, who nutmegs one defender and whizzes past another, before Lyngdoh runs away with the ball through on goal, only for Boerchio to come up and recover it. He should’ve passed it to Plaza!

77′ Good work from Novakovic! Chennai finally manage to mount a proper attack when they play through the left to Nestor, whose cross is cleared by Nenad before it could go towarads Manzi. 

75′ PLAZA ALMOST! A fantastic counter-attack is initiated by Aucho, who plays a fantastic ball to Chesterpoul Lyngdoh. The winger is selfish in trying to go for glory, with his shot being recovered by Nicholas who crosses the ball to Plaza, whose header goes over. Close again! 

73′ Chennai City are allowning nerves to sink them. Nicolas Fernandes almost adds another by beating Boerchio, who barely gets his palms to the ball to win back possession. Meanwhile, Nestor Gordiolla is booked for dissent after the counter-attack finds him in an offside position. 

71′ GOALL!!! PLAZA SCORES AGAIN! Aucho does really well to win back the ball in the final third, before the ball finds it way to Plaza, who confidently places the ball into the bottom right corner. 3-2! 

69′ MANZI SCORES! A very good penalty from the captain, who puts it throught he middle past Bhutia and equalizes the game once again with his 20th goal of the season. 2-2!

67′ PENALTY TO CHENNAI CITY! Wayne Vaz manages to unluckily handle the ball while clearing it from inside the box, giving Chennai a life-line! Meanwhile, Anthony Wolfe comes on for Remi. 

64′ Jovel Martins is currently on the ground after being on the end of a crunching challenge moments earlier. This frantic game finally gets some breathing room, as Chennai are desperate to get a goal back and complete the comeback. 

63′ Remi does really well to win the box inside his half, before running forward into the Chennai City goal, but Edwin’s pressing forces him to take a shot which goes well wide of the mark. 

60′ SO CLOSE!! That was an excellent chance for Chennai to equalize the game. Nestor does well to win the ball outside the box, before sending in a fantastic cross to the far-post to a free Romario, who’s shot goes just wide of the post. Should’ve done better!

57′ CLOSE! Willis Plaza makes another powerful run into the box after receiving a decent pass from Aucho, but blazes his shot over the bar once reaching a promising position inside the box. Meanwhile, on the other hand, Chennai move with vigor as Jesuraj’s cross is met by Manzi, who’s attempt goes well over. 

55′ There was a big chance to Churchill to add more misery to Chennai City. The ball makes it way to Plaza in the final third, allowing him to pass it to a maurading Khalid Aucho. However, the defensive midfielder can’t position himself properly to take a shot at goal. Meanwhile, Ranjeet comes in for Sriram. 

52′ In anti-climatic fashion for Chennai, Churchill have sunk their dreams with their brilliant start to the 2nd half. Chennai’s own poor defending isn’t helping their case, as Remi found it too easy to score that goal. 

50′ GOALL!! CHURCHILL TAKE THE LEAD! After that embarrassing miss, the Red Machines keep blazing forward as Wayne Vaz comes forward to play a clever ball to Remi Lorougnon, who goes past his man to cooolly slot into the goal. 2-1!

49′ SO CLOSE! Remi plays in a ball from the middle into the box, which Plaza races to win from the onrushing Boerchio. However, his shot goes over the top. 

47′ Pedro Manzi is down clutching his ankle after an interaction with Novakovic. He tries his best to outmuscle the Churchill defender, but is ousted in the end as Novakovic has the last laugh. 

46′ The second-half kicks off! This time, Chennai City are the ones moing from the left to right and looking to up the antee in their game. 

6:02 PM: The teams are back into the field and the second half will start in a few moments. 

HALF-TIME ANALYSIS: In what could be the biggest day in their history, Chennai City have been quite underwhelming at the Tilak Maidan. Churchill Brothers have shown more determination to score and had the lions share of chances in the half. Despite taking a fortunate lead through Sando’s deflected free-kick, the hosts rallied back through Plaza’s 19th goal of the season to level things up. They could’ve even gone ahead had Boerchio not made some decent saves and with injuries mounting, Chennai seem to be crumbling. Can they weather the storm and get the win they need? We’ll be back with the 2nd half action soon. Stay tuned, ladies and Gentlemen!

45+2′ In what could be a big blow to Chennai City, Ajithkumar Kamaraj’s day seems to be over as he limps off the field nursing an injury. Without a proper defender in their bench, things could get complicated as the half-time whistle blows. Nawas has a job on his hands now. 

45′ Two minutes of added time is announced. Churchill are looking to retain possession and end the half in control. 

44′ PLAZA! The Churchill Brothers captain shows a brilliant burst of pace to move from midfield into the box, before his initial shot is palmed away by Boerchio. He recovers it again, only to see his second attempt blocked before Aucho comes forward and takes a swing which goes flying over. 

41′ BIG CHANCE! Nicholas Fernandes shows a great bit of skill by going past two men inside the box, before taking a shot which forces a strong save from Boerchio before hitting the post and going away for a corner. 

40′ Churchill have gained a lot of confidence from that goal, which they’ve deserved after pegging forward throughout the half. Jovel Martins also seems rejuvenated and after going past one man, attempts an ambitious shot from a long way out which flies over the bar. 

38′ GOALL!! PLAZA EQUALIZES FOR CHURCHILL! A beautiful pass from Remi to Nicholas sets the winger free through the left-wing, allowing him to pitch in a great cross for his captain who makes no mistake from yards out. 1-1!

36′ Almost another moment of nightmare for Chennai City! Boerchio makes a mess by unecessarily wandering out of his goal, allowing Remi to take a shot which is saved by Eslava before it goes into goal. However, Regin Michael is booked for fouling him leading up to the attempt. 

35′ Chennai City do a really good job of clearing a dangerous corner taken from the hosts, but Nestor Gordillo does well to control the clearance and is cynically brought down by Wayne Vaz when he appears to move forward. Vaz sees a yellow-card for his troubles!

33′ Gaurav Bora’s shaky defending almost causes a nightmare for Chennai City. After a low cross is played in, Bora botches his clearance, allowing Remi to capitalize on his error before the Churchill striker is brought down in the box. However, no penalty despite Churchill’s urging! 

32′ Chennai City threaten to get one more after the lead, as Sandro moves forward and plays the ball down the left to Nestor. The winger draws back before playing a cross to Manzi, but Novakovic does well to clear out the danger. 

29′ GOAALLL!!! SANDRO DRAWS FIRST BLOOD! The Spaniard’s venemous free-kick deflects off Churchill’s defensive wall before going past Bhutia into the net. Chennai take one step closer to the title!

28′ Eslava does a fantastic job in intercepting the ball from Willis Plaza in around the half-line mark, before sending Nestor free on goal before he’s brought down outside the box. Promising range for Sandro Rodriguez! 

26′ Churchill Brothers produce some superb passing football in the final third, with Nicolas Fernandes being sent free inside the box through the left. However, his cross is a poor one and even Plaza loses possession inside the box rather than taking a shot. 

23′ Chennai City receive a free-kick from around 30 yards out after Manzi is cynically brought down by Nenad Novakovic. Sandro takes it, but his curling attempt is miles wide from its mark. 

21′ CLOSE! Chesterpoul gets some space on the right wing after a lobbed ball finds him in space, and he takes a volleyed attempt at goal from outside the box which whizzes past the goal. 

20′ Hussein Eldor has done a fantastic job in neutralizing Pedro Manzi’s threat so far. Coming off an injury spell, the defender has stuck close and cleared every ball there’s to be done. Similarly, Chennai have also done well to keep Plaza quiet, with Eslava doing well.  

17′ The game has ben quite a cagey one so far, with both teams effectively cancelling each other out. Meanwhile, Chennai City make their first substitution, with Edwin Vanspaul coming on for Tarif Akhand, who picked up a knock. 

15′ Chennai City finally get back on the attack, with Nestor moving in from the right and almost getting a shot in before the ball is cleared for a corner. THe corresponding set-piece is initially cleared well but Regin Michael recovers well before attempting a shot which goes well wide. 

12′ CLOSE!! The hosts have a big chance to score due to Chennai’s defensive errors. A long ball is played out from defence towards Remi Lorougnon, who outmuscles Bora to go through on goal, but Eslava clears the ball out for a corner before he could get his shot in. 

10′ Churchill earn a promising free-kick after Gaurav Bora brought down Willis Plaza from around 30 yards out from goal. Chesterpoul’s corresponding free-kick strikes the wall, after which the rebound attempt flies over. Wasted opportunity!

7′ The Red Machines create their first chance through a corner, when Chesterpoul Lyngdoh’s short set-piece is sent right into the arms of Mauro Boerchio. Meanwhile, the Chennai City FC fans have travelled in numbers and are making their voices heard. 

4′ The league leaders have started the game with a lot of enthusiasm. They’re pressing high up to win the ball and showing urgency to get the lead early on, but have been kept out by Churchill so far. 

2′ Chennai City with a promising start to the game! After gaining possession, Roberto Eslava attempts a cheeky long-ball to send Nestor free on goal, but the winger is judged offside before he could attempt a shot. 

1′ AND WE KICKOFF! Plaza kicks off the game for Churchill Brothers, who are attacking from the left to right.  

4:55 PM: The teams are slowly making their way onto the Tilak Maidan ground! It’s a sunny day here in Goa and conditions seem really good for a cracking encounter. Kickoff is just a few minutes away. Stay tuned, ladies and gentlemen!

4:50 PM: Chennai City FC could become only the second team(after Bengaluru FC) to win the I-League with one game in hand in over the past five years. Akbar Nawas’ side currently has the best away record among any side in the I-League, having picked up 18 points away from home and scored 17 away goals(the highest in I-League).

4:45 PM: The stakes are quite simple when it comes to this high-profile clash. Chennai City will win the league if they win, but a draw or loss could take things right down to the wire in their final league game against Minerva Punjab. East Bengal will hope Churchill Brothers do them a favor, as the Red Machines could keep their top 3 hopes up by prevailing over the league leaders. 

4:40 PM: Both sides are putting their best feet forward for this crucial game, which could decide the fate of the I-League today itself. Chennai City FC have only made one change from their 3-1 drubbing off Mohun Bagan, bringing in the more attack-minded Alexander Romario Jesuraj for Edwin Vanspaul. The Red Machines have made three changes from their last game, with Aniston Fernandes, Hussein Eldor and Kuzang Bhutia coming in for Anthony Wolfe, Rowlinson Rodrigues and Vigneshwaran Baskaran. 

4:35 PM: Here are the starting lineups for the game.

Churchill Brothers: Bhutia(GK), Vaz, Eldor, Novakovic, Martins, Aucho, Aniston, Nicholas, Chesterpoul, Lorougnon, Plaza(C).

Subs: Kithan, Suraj, Marshall, Lobo, Gurung, Hangshing, Wolfe.

Chennai City FC: Boerchio(GK), Akhand, Eslava, Bora, Ajithkumar, Sriram, Regin, Sandro, Jesuraj, Nestor, Manzi(C). 

Subs: Kabir, Vanspaul, Ranjeet, Sinivasan, Raju, Kaplan, Ameerudeen.

Also Read- Talking Points: Did Enrique Esqueda’s injury play a role in derailing East Bengal’s title challenge?

4:30 PM: Hello everyone! It is a wonderful atmosphere here in Goa and two of I-League behemoths, Churchill Brothers and Chennai City FC are all set to lock horns in what could prove to be the latter’s maiden I-League trophy winning game. The weather is near to perfect and spectators are coming in to experience the game. This is your host Uttiyo Sarkar, and I hope you enjoy the game with me.

Match Preview- Chennai City visit Churchill Brothers in potential title-decider