CHENNAI: Chennaiyin FC put up a splendid show but shared spoils after playing out an exciting 2-2 draw against Odisha FC in the Indian Super League 2022-23 contest at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai on Thursday.
Chennaiyin skipper Anirudh Thapa struck his first goal of the season in the 25th minute before Abdenasser El Khayati (57th minute) netted the second for the home side in the second half. Diego Mauricio (24th) and Isak Vanlalruatfela (47th) scored for Odisha.
With the scores locked at 2-2, Chennaiyin could have produced the winner 20 minutes before the final whistle when El Khayati was brought down by Lalruatthara in the box. But to everyone’s surprise no penalty was given to them.
“We have played 16 matches now and have accepted all the decisions from the referees even if it’s wrong, we never complained. Those situations hurt a bit. We are doing so much effort. At the end, we have to accept decisions from the referee,” Chennaiyin head coach Thomas Brdaric said after the match.
Thapa & Co kept pressing hard in the final quarter to take home full points. El Khayati almost had it for them in the 77th minute when he curled a Kwame Karikari pass but unfortunately hit the right post.
“Today we had more possession, created many chances and also more on target but at the end of the day it’s 2-2 and one point. I still hope we win all our four matches. We will analyse the match and see where we have to improve. We have to take positive things and I saw a lot of good things today,” Brdaric added.
Earlier, Chennaiyin were off to a promising start and came very close to scoring the opening goal in the 19th minute when Vincy Barretto headed Thapa’s cross from inside the box but it was saved by Amrinder Singh with a dive to his left.
It was Odisha, who managed to break the deadlock in the second quarter when Mauricio converted off a Vanlalruatfela pass. But the celebrations barely lasted for the visitors as Thapa struck the equaliser the very next minute.
Fans erupted in joy at the Marina Arena when Thapa elegantly headed home Aakash Sangwan cross as the animated first half saw Chennaiyin holding a slight edge over the opponent with 54 percentage of possession.
Josep Gombau’s men took just three minutes after the resumption to take the lead when Vanlalruatfela netted their second goal.
In-form El Khayati came to Chennaiyin’s rescue and made it 2-2 with a majestic touch towards the bottom corner of the post. It was Barretto, who recovered the ball on the left wing and slipped it to El Khayati, who made no mistake inside the box to smash his eighth goal of the season.
Chennaiyin will next face Kerala Blasters FC in an away match on Tuesday while Odisha take on FC Goa at home on Monday. (ANI)