Bengaluru, March 17 (IANS) Chennaiyin FC claimed their second Indian Super League (ISL) title with a convincing 3-2 win over hot favourites Bengaluru FC in the final here on Saturday.
Mailson Alves (17th, 45th minutes) headed in off corners to give Chennaiyin the lead after Sunil Chhetri (6th minute) had put the hosts in the lead.
Raphael Augusto drilled in the third goal in the second period. Nicolas Fedor, popularly known as Miku, got Bengaluru’s second goal in second half added time to ensure an anxious last few minutes for the away fans.
Bengaluru thus failed to win the title in their debut season in the ISL, while this was the second ISL triumph for Chennaiyin after their maiden victory in the 2015 season.
Bengaluru were the more attacking team right from the start. Not surprisingly, they took the early lead when a fast counter attack down the right flank saw Udanta Singh find Chettri with a horizontal pass at the edge of the Chennaiyin six-yard box. Chhetri made no mistake, bulging the net with a diving first time header.
The visitors found the equaliser against the run of play around 10 minutes later when Mailson rose above the home defence to head in a corner.
Delgado missed a great chance for Bengaluru at the half-hour mark when his attempt off a loose ball inside the penalty box went wide of the Chennaiyin goal.
The game slowed down a bit towards the end of the first half. Both teams had their chances in an end to end affair but it were Bengaluru who looked more dangerous in attack.
Alves put Chennaiyin in the lead just before the break when he outjumped his marker to head in off another corner to silence the local crowd.
Bengaluru suffered another blow when Spanish import Dimas Delgado picked up an injury and had to be replaced by fellow Spaniard Victor Perez right almost at the stroke of half-time.
Buoyed by the lead, Chennaiyin started the second half strongly and Gregory Nelson created a very good chance when he picked up the ball just outside the Bengaluru penalty box, dribbled in and left fly a powerful attempt which was well saved by goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu.
Chennaiyin played better in the second half. They were more composed, the passing and co-ordination was also better, which put the Bengaluru defence under pressure at regular intervals.
The visitors scored their third goal when a cross from the midfield found Jeje Lalpehlua at the edge of the penalty area. His lay off was met with a curling effort from just outside the box by Raphael Augusto who beat a diving Gurpreet all ends up near the right post.
Bengaluru responded with a period of sustained pressure on the Chennaiyin goal. Chennaiyin goalkeeper Karanjit Singh did well to produce a couple of excellent back to back saves of consecutive corners much to the disappointment of the Bengaluru players and fans.
Chennaiyin tried to slow down the pace of the game towards the end as they tried to hold on to the lead.
However, Fedor revived the rapidly dying hopes of the Bengaluru fans when he managed to beat Karanjit in the second minute of added time.
However, Chennaiyin survived an anxious last couple of minutes to claim a well-deserved win.
(Ajeyo Basu can be contacted at [email protected])