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Vineeth's Late Equaliser Spoils Chennaiyin's Party

Friday, 22 December 2017|Vineeth Krishnan

Slovenian Rene Mihelic scored an 88th-minute penalty following a poor refereeing decision but the Kerala Blasters held their nerve to strike back deep into injury time to come away from Chennai with a share of the spoils. The 1-1 scoreline was perhaps deserved for both teams at the end, with not many clear-cut chances being created by either.

As in the previous game against Northeast United, it was CK Vineeth who scored the only goal for the Blasters, a tap-in into an empty net after a delightful driven ball from the right. Having harshly been adjudged to have handled the ball resulting in Chennaiyin’s penalty, it was Blasters skipper Sandesh Jhingan who made amends with the cross, leaving Vineeth to steal the plaudits.

In the 87th minute, Jeje Lalpekhlua did extremely well to control the ball and lay it off for Francisco Fernandes, whose first time hit was charged down by a diving Jhingan. The ball seemed to hit his side and shoulder and in any case, his arm was by his side, meaning the correct call was the ball to hand and not the other way around. 

The game itself was devoid of major footballing incidents for the most part. Jackichand Singh should have opened the scoring in the first half, blazing over after being put through by Courage Pekuson. With all of the Chennai backline attracted to him like he were a bee, the young Ghanaian chose the perfect through pass to a completely unmarked Jacki on the right flank. However, just as he did from a similar position a few games back against Mumbai City FC, the India international winger failed to keep his shot down.

The best efforts of the second half, before the late flurry, were long range hits from Pekuson for the Blasters and substitute Gregory Nelson for the home side. Both drew fine diving saves from Karanjit and Paul Rachubka respectively. The latter finished the game in some discomfort, having kicked a rogue sprinkler (which hadn’t quite gone down into the pitch) while trying to clear his lines off a back pass. His niggle is unlikely to see him have to sit out against Bengaluru FC in their next game, on New Year’s eve in Kochi. However, Rino Anto, who came out with a hamstring strain in the first period, could be a slightly longer term casualty.

Chennaiyin FC go top of the table after this result, sitting pretty on 13 points from 7 matches. The Blasters continue to sit in 7th, having secured 7 points from 6 games. Next up for Chennaiyin is a trip to Jamshedpur while the Blasters return home for their second Southern derby on the trot.