Mendoza and Elano slot a brace each as the host runs out a 5-1 winner
It was a tale scripted to perfection. Every change rung in and every tactical switch made worked wonders for Chennaiyin FC even as Mumbai City FC didn’t help itself by aggravating the very same problem areas it had rightly identified beforehand.
The end result was that Chennai routed Mumbai 5-1 with two goals each from marquee player Elano and John Stiven Mendoza Valencia and a lone goal for Jeje Lalpekhlua.
Player-manager Marco Materazzi made four changes — Lalpekhlua replaced Balwant Singh upfront, Shilton Paul manned the goal in place of Gennaro Bracigliano, defender Jairo Andres Suarez Carvajal came in for Dhanachandra Singh and the most inspired of them all, Materazzi played himself instead of Bojan Djordic.
The towering former Italian World Cup winner was positioned in front of the defence in what was a 4-1-2-3 formation, a slightly defensive version of the 4-3-3.
He won balls, intercepted play and marshalled his defence to nullify the twin threat of Mumbai’s Nicolas Anelka and Andre Francisco Moritz. The axis of Materazzi-Elano-Mendoza it helped create in the process was the key.
Chennaiyin’s attack was more direct. The super-quick Mendoza ran the channels between the opposing defenders who often found themselves beaten by the aerial balls launched by Elano.
After the Brazilian, who was inexplicably left unmarked throughout, scored off a penalty in the ninth minute, Materazzi won the ball near his penalty area, passed to Elano who let a first-time pass fly over the defence. It was neatly bundled into the bottom left corner by Lalpekhlua for the second goal in the 26th minute.
It was a pattern that repeated many times, only with varying cast. Twice Shilton cleared the ball beyond the Mumbai defence only for Mendoza to be denied both times.
One such perfectly weighted ball from Harmanjot Khabra was finished off by Mendoza for the fourth goal a minute before halftime.
Mumbai manager Peter Reid had earlier spoken about Elano’s exemplary dead ball skills. He would have been gutted to have conceded two goals in that manner. In a sense, the two free-kicks which resulted in goals weren’t Elano’s best efforts.
The first in the 41st minute was a really innocuous one which was fluffed by goalkeeper Subrata Paul and duly tapped in by Mendoza. The second in the 69th minute was drilled from the left flank which escaped every on-rushing player into the goal.
Throughout, the visiting side could hardly stitch together a promising move. On one rare occasion when Anelka slipped the ball through to Subhash Singh in the first half, Shilton was up to the task.
Only after Materazzi was replaced by Bojan Djordjic in the 58th minute did Mumbai enjoy more possession. Anelka took a more central role with Andre Moritz behind him.
On a couple of occasions Djordjic ventured a bit further than Materazzi had done earlier, letting Mumbai advance a bit. But all that it fetched was a consolation goal by Syed Rahim Nabi from a corner.
In the last twenty minutes there were darting runs into the opposition half by Elano, Mendoza and Bernard Mendy. But with five goals already scored these hardly seemed like statements of intent but attempts at merely enjoying themselves.
The result: Chennaiyin FC 5 (Elano 9, 69; Lalpekhlua 26, Mendoza 41, 44) bt Mumbai FC 1 (Nabi 87).
Source: The Hindu