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Chennaiyin, Mumbai play out goalless draw on Diwali evening

Chennai, Oct 27 (IANS) Chennaiyin FC secured their first draw of the season with a goalless encounter against Mumbai City at home on Sunday’s Indian Super League (ISL) fixture.

Despite the number of chances that both sides got, they weren’t able to find the target and the score remained 0-0 when the referee blew the final whistle.

Mumbai City join NorthEast United at the top of the table with four points from two games.

Chennaiyin could have stormed into the lead within 30 seconds when Rafael Crivellaro fed Andre Schembri through on goal. But the Maltese striker could only toe the ball forward on the stretch which was blocked by Mumbai City goalkeeper Amrinder. The rebound fell for Rafael who saw his effort miraculously palmed over Amrinder’s outstretched arm.

The home team looked full of attacking intent in that opening period, with Rafael pulling the strings. The Brazilian did exceedingly well to hold on to the ball in the 11th minute down the left wing, before rolling his marker and unleashing a vicious shot that flew just over.

Minutes later, a poor defensive header from Souvik Chakrabarti saw Lallianzuala Chhangte race through on goal but his tame effort was blocked by Amrinder and Rafael, who was following up, shot wide.

Mumbai City, who were struggling to put together moves, were dealt a blow in the 24th minute when Modou Sougou went off injured with Serge Kevyn replacing him.

However, Mumbai started to grow into the game soon after and Amine Chermiti had two good chances to score. First, he lobbed over after a disastrous backpass from Edwin Vanspaul before heading a Raynier Fernandes cross over from point-blank range in the 27th minute.

Just past the half-hour mark, Kevyn was sent through on goal by Rowllin Borges but the substitute shot wide as Mumbai started to exert themselves.

The Islanders finished the half well but found themselves under pressure at the restart as Chennaiyin showed some urgency. Several chances were created but the goal remained elusive.

In a bid to gain more control, Mumbai City head coach Jorge Costa brought in Portuguese midfielder Paulo Machado for Fernandes. The substitute almost had an impact when his pass found Kevyn in space down the left but his first-time shot was tipped away by Chennaiyin custodian Vishal Kaith.

John Gregory’s side had to change their plans after Rafael went down injured after a tough challenge from Souvik, which forced the Englishman to bring on Masih Saighani.

After a bit of a lull, Chennaiyin started to pile the pressure and almost got a break in the 80th minute. A good passing move saw Anirudh Thapa play in Nerijus Valskis just inside the penalty box but the lanky forward’s shot went wide.

The home team continued to threaten on the counter but a combination of poor decision-making from them and last-gasp defending by Mumbai City kept the scores level.

Though Mumbai City were reduced to 10 men in injury time after Souvik was sent off for a cynical foul on Thoi Singh, Chennaiyin could not force a winner.

–IANS

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