I-League: Late Pedro Strikes Puts Chennai in Drivers' Seat
Pedro Manzi scored two goals and set up another to guide table-toppers Chennai City FC to a 4-2 win over hosts Shillong Lajong in a return leg fixture of the Hero I-League Monday.
Shillong: Pedro Manzi scored two goals and set up another to guide table-toppers Chennai City FC to a 4-2 win over hosts Shillong Lajong in a return leg fixture of the Hero I-League Monday.
Pedro, the current highest scorer in the 12th I-League with 18 goals to his credit, changed the complexion of the match in a span of 12 minutes.
Spaniards Sandro Rodriguez and Nestor Jesus were the other goal scorers for Chennai, while Kitboklang Pale and Samuel Lyngdoh scored for the home team.
Chennai consolidated their position at the top with 37 points from 17 games, five points clear of their nearest rival East Bengal.
Shillong remained at the bottom of the table with 10 points from the same number of games.
Akbar Nawaz gave new recruit and Italian keeper Mauro Boerchio his first start under the Chennai woodwork while Allison Kharsyntiew started with an unchanged XI.
The game began with Chennai City pressing hard from the first minute. The Spanish duo of Pedro and Sandro along with Ajith Kumar combined well to threaten the young Lajong defence.
It soon yielded results when Sandro curled in a corner into Shillong net past keeper Phurcha Lachempa in the seventh minute to hand Chennai the lead.
Lajong then lost their keeper Lachempa to an injury.
Shillong started to attack a little late in the half and made some threatening moves to keep debutant Mauro Boerchio busy.
Phrangki Buam, Mahesh Naorem, and Kitboklang Pale combined well to create a few opportunities but could not convert any.
Lajong's efforts finally paid dividends when Kitboklang Pale came up with a clinical finish, after a brilliant through ball from Phrangki Buam in the 23rdminute.
The first half came to an end with the scoreline reading 1-1 for both the teams.
In the second half, Lajong began on a more enterprising note but Phrangki Buam and Samuel Lyngdoh wasted some golden chances.
However, as has been the case throughout the length of the league, Chennai's Spanish armada led by Pedro changed the complexion of the game in the last 12 minutes.
Off a Sandro free-kick from the left flank in the 78th minute, Pedro headed in for his 17th goal of the league.
He then latched on to a long ball four minutes later, from Josef Kaplan from inside the Chennai half and crossed accurately for countryman Nestor Jesus to head home.
Samuel Lyngdoh then converted a penalty in the 85th minute to keep Shillong interested before Pedro's 90th-minute strike sealed the match in Chennai's favour.
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