Chennaiyin FC came up with a clinical display to crush FC Goa 4-1 in the first leg of the Indian Super League (ISL) semifinal at the Nehru stadium here on Saturday.
After a goalless first half, goals from Lucian Goian (54th minute), Anirudh Thapa (61st), Eli Sabia (77th) and Lallianzuala Chhangte (79th) delivered the goods for the hosts and secured a crucial lead ahead of the second leg fixture away from home.
Saviour Gama (85th) came off the bench to score a vital away goal for FC Goa, as the League Winners endured their worst defeat of the season so far.
Skipper Lucian Goian opened the scoring with a header in the 54th minute, rising over the Goa custodian Mohammed Nawaz. Seven minutes later, Anirudh Thapa underlined his class with a stunning strike to the top right corner to put CFC 2-0 up. After missing out on scoring in the first half, the two- time champion appeared to be finding the range and began to run the Goa defence ragged. The visiting team, which finished on top of the league stage, attempted to pull things back but some poor defending let it down. Another strike by Chennaiyin in the 77th minute, this time courtesy a goal by Eli Sabia, pushed Goa into further despair. Nerijus Valskis executed a fine give-and-go on the left flank, dribbled to the byline and delivered the ball across the face of the goal for Eli Sabia, who placed the ball into the net. Thapa set Chhangte up inside the box with a simple pass and the Indian winger struck the ball hard into the net to score Chennaiyin’s fourth goal as Goa looked shell-shocked. The visitors, however, pulled a goal back in the 85th minute to keep the contest alive. Goian failed to clear a lofted ball into the box by Jahouh and it fell to substitute Saviour, who found the net with an easy finish.
After a slow start, FC Goa created an opening after the half an hour mark when Ferran Corominas charged forward through the middle to initiate a quick breakaway. The striker found Manvir Singh’s run, who then laid the ball off for Seriton Fernandes to shoot. Goalkeeper Vishal Kaith, who had a good day between the sticks, was alert to the danger and produced a good low save.