CHENNAI: At 0-0 at the end of the first half, it seemed as if another game in the ISL this season was heading for a goalless draw. But those concerns were safely laid to rest as Chennaiyin andATK
produced a five-goal thriller at the Jawarharlal Nehru Stadium here on Thursday.
In the end, it was Chennaiyin who came up trumps 3-2 courtesy a Jeje brace. It was their third consecutive win and they go top. Bottom-placed ATK, on the other hand, are yet to notch up a win this season with just two points from four games.
The visitors tried everything in their power to turn their fortunes around, including throwing in star striker Robbie Keane at the hour mark despite coach Teddy Sheringham’s assertion on Wednesday that he was some way off from returning after sustaining a knee injury.
It was Chennaiyin striker Jeje, however, who eventually grabbed the spotlight with two goals to his credit. The second of those goals came in the 90th minute with the teams locked at 2-2, slotting home from close range after a cross from right-back Inigo Calderon was parried by ATK custodian Debjit Majumder.
Jeje, who hadn’t scored prior to this game, was also the one to break the initial deadlock. In the 65th minute, midfielder Jaime Gavilan, who came in for Raphael Augusto in the starting XI, played in a brilliant cross for Henrique Sereno. While the Portuguese defender’s header only managed to hit the woodwork, Jeje was in the right place at the right time as he tapped the ball into the net.
Desperate to find their winning touch, ATK roared back into contention through Zequinha, who made it 1-1 in the 77th minute with a low-driven volley inside the 18-yard box.
Even though the momentum swung like a pendulum towards the latter stages, Chennaiyin were just a step ahead. The hosts found the lead just seven minutes after ATK’s equaliser, with Inigo’s shot deflecting off ATK defender Tom Thorpe and going past goalkeeper Debjit.
Just a little over 20 minutes after coming on, Keane showed a glimpse of what is to come as he played an inch-perfect through ball for Finland’s Njazi Kuqi who latched onto it to make it 2-2 for ATK. But it was hardly a consolation at the end.