Last season’s beaten finalists Chennaiyin began their 2020-2021 campaign in the ISL with a 2 -1 win against Jamshedpur at the Tilak Maidan Stadium in Vasco de Gama on Tuesday.
All the goals came in the first half. It was a disappointing start to the season for Jamshedpur manager Owen Coyle against the team he took to the finals eight months ago.
Chennaiyin made an explosive start to the math, taking the lead in the first minute. Rafael Crivellaro slipped a ball to the right flank into the path of Esmael Goncalves. He took a touch and then drilled a low cross into the path of Anirudh Thappa who tucked it home from close range.
Jamshedpur had a chance to hit back soon afterwards from a set piece, but Peter Hartley could not direct his header on target. Goncalves then should have made it too, but then could not keep his nerve when he was one-on-one with the keeper.
Then it was the turn of Lallianzuala Chhangte to go close, drawing a good save from TP Rehenesh in the Jamshedpur goal. However, they then go the second goal their overall play deserved when Chhangte was nudged over in the box, and the referee pointed to the penalty spot. Goncalves took it and gave the keeper no chance.
Up to that point it had been nearly all Chennaiyin. But Jamshedpur pulled a goal back through last season’s Golden Boot winner Nerijus Valskis. Jackichand Singh delivered a fine cross into the box and the Lithuanian striker leaped highest to meet it with his head.
The play was more even in the second half and Jamshedpur wanted a golden chance to equalise in the 64th minute when the Chennaiyin keeper missed a cross but Stephen Eze could not direct his header on target.
Four minutes later they missed another good opportunity when an error by Vishal Kaith gave Singh another shooting chance. Fortunately for Kaith, Enes Sipovic saved his blushes with a saving clearance.
Chhangte should have made the points safe for his side when he burst through on the left, but he elected to shoot rather than to pass and the chance went begging.
And Valskis almost made Chennaiyin pay for their profligacy when the ball fell to him in injury time in the box, bit he could not suit his feet out in time, and the ball was cleared.
Both teams could and should have scored more, but Chennaiyin finished the match feeling much the happier of the two.