Akbar Nawas’s side are currently on top of the table, while the Red and Gold Brigade are second.
Chennai City picked up a crucial I-League win at the Salt Lake Stadium on Tuesday, when they defeated red-hot East Bengal 2-1. After taking the lead in the first half through an exceptional Sandro Rodriguez free-kick, East Bengal equalized through their Mexican striker Enrique Esqueda. However, Chennai kept on plowing forward for the winner and found it when Nestor Garillo converted a penalty in the 87th-minute to seal a vital win for the league leaders.
Here are our talking points from the game:
5. East Bengal are too reliant on Enrique Esqueda
East Bengal were definitely the second best team on the day, but managed to attain some hope due to their prolific striker Enrique Esqueda. The Mexican was definitely their most dangerous outlet in the final third, with his clever movement and awareness troubling Chennai City. He might not have been very energetic, but he was always in promising positions which could spark attacks for the hosts.
He was in the right place at the right time to score East Bengal’s equalizer and take his tally to three for the season.
4. Sandro may be Chennai’s ace in the hole
Sandro put in a very effective display against East Bengal
In a game where Chennai’s midfield ace Nestor Garillo and striker Pedro Manzi were heavily marked by East Bengal, the hosts made a mistake in underestimating Sandro’s talents. Chennai’s #7 had a stellar game, moving in and around the final third very dangerously. He stole the ball and created a great chance for Manzi in the first half, while also dominating possession for his side. He also earned the free-kick which he amazingly curled into the net and gave his side the lead.
3. Chennai City’s persistence pays off
Chennai made a triumphant return to the Salt Lake Stadium and proved how much they’ve changed since their 7-1 thrashing last season. They were at it attacking throughout the game and played some beautiful, fluid football. Despite conceding a poor goal in the early parts of the second half, they didn’t crumble under the pressure and maintained their style of play.
Chennai created many chances in the second half, but their finishing let them down. However, they didn’t give up and their persistence paid off when they got a penalty in the late minutes and scored the winner through the reliable Nestor.
2. East Bengal seem to be lacking in midfield
One thing which East Bengal failed to do after the Calcutta Football League (mostly due to their transfer ban), was to improve their midfield. Kassim Aidara is unfavored in Menendez’s system, as the Spanish gaffer is continuing with Kamalpreet Singh and Lalrindika Ralte through the middle. However, the two were badly run down by Chennai’s packed midfield and were caused all sorts of problems by the movement of their Spanish magicians. Moreover, Bengal failed to control possession, as well as giving away the ball easily due to their pressing.
1. Chennai City show East Bengal how to play the Spanish style
Chennai’s fluid possession-based style was a masterclass
Chennai City gave a masterclass in terms of the Spanish, fluid form of football which made them the more attractive team to watch. East Bengal might have a Spanish gaffer, but it was Akbar Nawas’ tactical prowess which helped Chennai win the game in such a commendable manner.