Colombo: Chennaiyin held Colombo to a goalless draw in the first leg of the 2019 AFC Cup playoffs on Wednesday. The hosts threatened the Marina Machan's defence but a solid defensive display prevented damage. At the other end, the defending champions of ISL struggled to create clear-cut chances and match ended without goals.
John Gregory made two changes to the starting lineup that lost 0-1 to FC Goa in their final ISL league game on February 28. CK Vineeth was named on the bench as Francisco Fernandes was brought in to provide width. Australian Chris Herd was dropped from the matchday squad and was replaced by Germanpreet Thapa in the first team midfield. Eli Sabia, Mailson Alves and Raphael Augusto were three foreigners selected by the coach. Oddly, Gregory also named two goalkeepers, Sanjiban Ghosh and Nikhil Bernard on the bench.
The home team looked to get the first goal and started on the front foot but the visitors' backline managed to hold on and counter, mostly through long-balls. Early on in the game, Mailson's punt up the field was chested down by Jeje Lalpekhlua into the path of Francisco who had made a timely run but his shot flew wide of the Colombo goal.
Francisco's touch let him down in the 21st minute. Augusto played an excellent ball to Tondonba whose cross found the winger who couldn't direct his shot into the net. The Colombo goalkeeper was alert to a dangerous cross into the box by Isaac before the break. Jeje nearly connected to it before the custodian's timely intervention.
Mailson's interceptions denied Colombo a clear sight of goal after the restart. A no-nonsense clearance followed by a good interception of a cross from the left flank by the alert centre-back kept the scoreline intact. CK Vineeth and Tho Singh late cameos as Chennaiyin tried to sneak in an away goal but they found it difficult to get into the game.
Colombo attack was kept at bay as the second half progressed and Chennaiyin kept their chances alive, with a home leg to play on March 13 at the Arena in Ahmedabad.
Did you find this article intriguing and think the insights gained from it are unique? Then read more on the Indifoot App. You can also get your daily dose of football from our social media platforms. Hit us up on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
Image Source: Chennaiyin FC Twitter