ISL 2023-24: Chennaiyin FC inch closer to playoffs spot with win over Kerala Blasters

Chennai, Feb 16 : Chennaiyin FC ended their three-match-long losing streak with an essential 1-0 victory over Kerala Blasters FC in the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium in Chennai on Friday. The Kochi-based outfit succumbed to their third straight loss as their mishitting form since the resumption of the league is now further troubled with the injury to their goalkeeping mainstay Sachin Suresh.

Coming out of his line to clear a cross directed towards Farukh Choudhary, Sachin ended up hurting his shoulder and had to be substituted to bring Karanjit Singh into the field in the 37th minute. Kerala Blasters FC has already been affected by injuries to Adrian Luna and Kwame Peprah, which has cut down the dynamism of their frontline operated within the first half of this campaign.

Even on Friday night, the attacking unit spearheaded by Fedor Černych and Ishan Pandita was unable to function in cohesion, barely troubling the Chennaiyin FC defence. They shot twice on target, but it was a game primarily battled out in the midfield, with even the decisive goal by Aakash Sangwan in the 60th minute coming as a result of a quick routine through a throw-in.

On the left side of the field, the Brazilian playmaker threw the ball in through the touchline which was well collected by Farukh. The attacker showed promising hold-up play and turned a bit on the right and then laid up a pass for Sangwan inside the box. The 28-year-old was on the move, controlled the ball with his first touch and hammered it past Karanjit to get Chennaiyin FC ahead in the game by shooting accurately from close range.

Interestingly, Sangwan had interlinked with Crivellaro earlier in the first half to good effect too. The fullback was taking an active interest in rushing into the box and exploiting opportunities at goal, with one of his similar efforts missing the target by mere inches at the 20th-minute mark.

Černych was suddenly thrown into the deep end for Kerala Blasters FC due to the last-minute injury to Greek striker Dimitrios Diamantakos. Accordingly, there was some rustiness in his approach, with Daisuke Sakai squaring up a pass for him from the right flank just after Sangwan’s effort that the forward couldn’t convert despite having ample open space in front of him.

The victory has shot Chennaiyin FC to the eighth spot from the 11th, and they are now merely two points (15) behind the sixth-placed Jamshedpur FC (17) despite playing two fewer games (14) than them (16). Even the second yellow card and subsequent sending off of Ankit Mukherjee in the 81st minute didn’t deter the Marina Machans from grabbing hold of this victory.

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