Four matches, ATK yet to win
Calcutta: Chennaiyin FC left it very late to record a hat-trick of victories as they upstaged ATK 3-2 and surged to the top of the Indian Super League (ISL) IV standings at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Chennai, on Thursday.
Jeje Lalpekhlua was the hero for Chennaiyin FC as he struck a brace, including the match-winner in the first minute of stoppage time.
Jeje had scored the opening goal in the 65th minute but the goal was cancelled out by Zequinha (77th minute). Inigo Calderon then struck with just six minutes on the clock for Chennaiyin FC, only for Njazi Kuqi to level scores in the 89th minute.
Then Jeje proved why he is the leading Indian goalscorer in the ISL.
This was Chennaiyin’s third victory in a row and the second time they have secured full points with a late goal.
In Pune last week, captain Henrique Soreno had struck late to give them three points and here in Chennai, the former champions stuck to their task handing ATK their second loss in four matches.
The fast-paced action and flurry of goals in the second session was in sharp contrast to the first when both teams took their time to judge each other’s tactics, creating chances few and far between. The teams had a look at the rival goal but never looked threatening enough.
The floodgates were opened in the 65th minute by Jeje who scored an opportunistic goal as a short corner from Chennaiyin FC saw captain Sereno rise high to nod home, only for the ball to hit the post and rebound back where Jeje was available to nod home.
ATK fought back through Zequinha whose low effort from close range and a crowded defence sailed past goalkeeper Karanjit Singh for the equaliser.
Chennaiyin FC again shot ahead, this time through Calderon’s strike that took a huge deflection off defender Tom Thorpe and wrong-footed goalkeeper Debjit Majumder.
For the second time in the game, ATK equalised. In the 89th minute, Robbie Keane, making his ISL debut at the hour mark, played it for Kuqi, whose initial shot was blocked by Karanjit but the Finnish striker made no mistake with his second effort.
Just when it seemed this was ending in a stalemate, Jeje proved everyone wrong with a goal in the first minute of added time, much to the delight of the home supporters.