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A sea of humanity at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Fatorda was silenced in a matter of moments as Chennaiyin FC beat FC Goa 3-2 in the Indian Super League final here on Sunday.
With barely three minutes left Joffre Gonzalez scored off a free-kick in what seemed to be the winner (at 2-1), only for the visitors to hit back with two goals in a single minute to steal the title.
In perhaps a fitting finish, John Stiven Mendoza, the league’s top-scorer, after having earlier missed a penalty, scored the winner in the 90th minute.
Just moments before that, Goa goalie Laxmikant Kattimani, had pushed the ball into his own net after failing to collect a long ball.
As has been the habit thus far in the season, Romeo Fernandes from the right initiated the first attack sending in a dangerous ball. In the fifth minute, striker Dudu had to be stretchered off, and then packed into an ambulance, following a clash of heads with defender Mailson Alves.
The initial exchanges were cagey marked by a plethora of fouls. The first clear-cut chance fell to Pelissari in the 12th minute, but was fluffed when a terrific back-heel by Mendoza onto his path was sent above the goal.
Pronay Halder, the right-sided defender in a three-man defence, was entrusted with the task of marking either Mendoza or Pelissari whoever drifted wide. Such was his diligence that Mendoza had to shrug him off for sticking too close to him in the middle of the pitch even when Goa had a corner at the other end.
For Goa, the trio of Joffre, Leo Moura and Rafael Coelho pulled the strings while for Chennai, Pelissari, Mendoza and Jeje Lalpekhlua formed a fluid front three. But Moura, in particular, was the calmest among all, distributing the ball with aplomb under severe pressure.
On occasions when they were denied space, Goa’s strategy to make a rapid transition from defence to attack involved sending overhead balls with military precision.
Romeo sent one perfectly-weighted ball which, however, was not capitalised on by Rafael. In the 38th minute, Mendoza showed some quick feet to evade his markers, but his shot was pushed behind for a corner by Kattimani.
But within ten minutes into the second half, Pranoy, having done ever so well, tackled Mendoza from behind to concede a penalty. Pelissari’s shot from the spot was blocked by Kattimani only for the rebound to be bundled in.
Within four minutes, Goa equalised. Thongkoisep Haokip, having entered the field in place of the injured Moura, tapped a fine cross by Romeo.
In the 61st minute Chennai could have gone ahead but Mendoza spurned the chance to convert from the spot after having earned the penalty himself. From then on, Goa showed much attacking verve with Rafael causing problems on either wing. But in the end it came to nothing as Marco Materazzi’s men claimed the crown.
The result: Chennaiyin FC 3 (Pelissari 54, Kattimani 90-og, Mendoza 90) bt FC Goa 2 (Haokip 58, Joffre 87).
Ms. Nita Ambani gives the trophy to the Chennaiyin FC team.
Golden boot award goes to John Stiven Mendoza of Chennaiyin FC.
Golden glove award goes to Chennaiyin FC goalkeeper Apoula Edima Edel Bete.
Emerging player award goes to Jeje of Chennaiyin FC.
Hero of the League award goes to John Stiven Mendoza of Chennaiyin FC.
Fairplay award goes to Mumbai City FC.
Player of the ISL 2015 goes to Iain Hume of Atletico de Kolkata.
From: The Hindu