Image credit: Indian Super League.
Chennai: Defending champions Chennaiyin FC snapped their five-match winless streak as Jeje Lalpekhlua and Davide Succi scored once in each half to beat FC Pune City 2-0 in their Indian Super League football match on Tuesday.
A headed goal by Jeje in the 44th minute and another strike from Succi in the 51st minute were enough for Chennaiyin to collect three points from their first win after beating NorthEast United in Guwahati on October 20.
Since that away win in Guwahati, Chennaiyin have drawn three matches while losing two.
From seventh at the league table, Chennaiyin are now in fifth spot with 13 points from 10 matches and they are back in the reckoning for a place in the semi-finals. They are only outside the top four due to an inferior goal difference.
Pune will be concerned about their chances of qualification for semi-finals. The team coached by former ISL champion Antonio Habas is now placed sixth, although they are only a point behind the defending champions.
Needing to win to keep their chances alive, Chennaiyin coach Marco Materazzi made five changes to his starting line-up as he introduced players like Eder Monteiro, Hans Mulder, Davide Succi and Manuele Blasi to the starting line-up while Karanjit Singh was preferred as goalkeeper.
Habas did not change much, making just one, opting for Raju Yumnam in place of Rahul Bheke.
Pune started well and had decent chances before they fell by the wayside. Anibal Zurdo was the first to try his luck with a free-kick that missed the target by a whisker and Lenny Rodrigues made a fine run on the right but his final attempt lacked power and direction, despite being in a good position.
Raphael Augusto was the most impressive player for Chennaiyin. The Brazilian made his intention clear in the 21st minute when he intercepted a pass from Jonatan Lucca, ran down the flank but ended with a disappointing right-footer when passing to Succi would have been a better option.
Succi also had a shot on goal in the 24th minute but his effort was wayward.
Chennaiyin drew first blood just before half-time through Jeje. Bernard Mendy started the move by playing the ball for Raphael in the middle. The Brazilian found Mulder whose cross for Succi got a touch before reaching Jeje and the highest Indian goal-scorer in the ISL did the rest by beating Pune goalkeeper Edel Bete with a smart header from close.
Bete and Pune were down again early in the second session. In the 51st minute, Succi rose high to head a brilliant cross from Raphael and beat both his marker, Eduardo Ferreira and a leaping goalkeeper.
Pune tried to fight their way back but Chennaiyin were just too solid in defence, not giving any chance whatsoever to their rivals.