Ogbeche’s hat-trick sinks Chennaiyin’s hopes against Northeast
In what was a roller-coaster of a contest, NorthEast United FC managed to sneak out with three points against a dominant Chennai team. The match was played at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium and had an immense plot, which took constant turns to keep the fans at the edge of their seats. This is how the game turned out.
Both teams lined up with a similar 4-2-3-1 formation but John Gregory’s side gained an early lead through an unexpected scenario. Left winger Issac Vanmalsawma put in an excellent cross into a tricky area inside the box. Rowlin Borges was unable to clear it and hence under pressure from Eli Sabia, Borges mistakenly rolled the ball into the net. Goalkeeper Pawan Kumar was unable to save it either and hence Chennai led very early into the game.
Post that, NorthEast United FC recovered well and maintained a stronghold over the possession. Despite working the ball around well, their inability to maintain cohesion in the final third meant that Chennaiyin’s backline thwarted any possible danger. Ten minutes from then, Chennaiyin’s defender launched a long ball that caught NorthEast United FC’s backline out of concentration. Issac, yet again, showed immense maturity and composure to collect the delivery and square it off for Thoi Singh whose composed finish gave Chennaiyin a two-goal lead under 20 minutes.
Later, some shambolic defending from Gregory’s side meant that they conceded their first goal of the match. Federico Gallego took a mistimed shot but Karanjit Singh and Sabia messed up inside the box to allow Bartholomew Ogbeche pounce at the loose ball and cut short Chennaiyin’s lead in the game. However, remained undeterred and Raphael Augusto created a brilliant goal for Thoi Singh through some imperious footwork and decision making from the left flank. Singh’s finish was arguably lucky, but he nevertheless attained the two-goal lead.
The flurry of events continued when Gallego played another long ball over Chennaiyin’s backline. A lack of organization on the defensive front meant that Ogbeche was afforded enough time to chest down, control and precisely put the ball behind the net. Chennaiyin’s horrendous defending continued as Ogbeche notched a hat-trick through a third goal within two minutes created by Gallego in the exact same manner.
A long ball caught Chennaiyin’s defence napping, and Ogebeche turned the tide to bring the game on level terms. Some exquisite finishing from the centre-forward and a continuous failure in defence from Chennaiyin meant that the first half ended at 3-3, where ideally Gregory’s team should have been leading by at least two goals.
Within ten minutes of the second half, NorthEast United FC’s Rowlin Borges repaid for his earlier own goal with a smashing finish that Karanjit Singh could not resist. It was created by a messy clearance from Sabia, and Borges displayed some calm head to acquire a lead over Chennaiyin.
The second half was a testament to NorthEast United FC’s diligence and the ability to stick to their gameplay despite the initial hiccups. They maintained, recovered and worked around the ball extremely well. Moreover, Ogebeche was clinical enough to dispatch the three chances that came his way.
From then, the game attained some good pace but NorthEast United FC’s desire and a defined defensive setup meant that they were able to hold on to the lead until the end. It must be a morale-breaking loss for John Gregory’s team.
However, NEUFC could take a lot to learn too, as they would look to instill some stability in their backline to avoid conceding such petty goals like they did today earlier in the game.
Chennaiyin too needs to remain concentrated enough and not lose their shape whilst dealing with long balls over the midfield. Gregory will have to work hard on this aspect with his team.
What’s Next for Chennaiyin FC?
NorthEast United FC will face Jamshedpur FC at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium exactly one week from now while Chennaiyan FC will come up against Delhi Dynamos on 23rd of October at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.