"Pray for Chennai, Play for Chennai" — that was the message from the teams prior to the start of the match, and Chennaiyin FC made sure to dish out that one performance that could bring oodles of smiles to all those affected by the floods back in the South Indian city.
Marco Materazzi started with Jeje Lalpekhlua, Stiven Mendoza, and Bruno Pelissari as the front three, and the trio made sure to pick up a goal each and help their team in the best way possible to make it to the final of the tournament after the first leg itself.
Chennaiyin FC won the game 3-0, and it is needless to say that ISL defending champions Atletico de Kolkata are in the biggest possible pressure of their life to overturn the result in the second leg. From what we saw in the game at the Balewadi Stadium in Pune on Saturday, it looks like it is almost impossible for ATK to get anything from the second-leg game in their home as well.
Bruno Pelissari drew first blood for Chennaiyin FC in the 39th minute as he scored from a direct free-kick to blast the net. His beauty of a shot got past the wall as well as a diving Atletico de Kolkata custodian Amrinder Singh. At the start of the match itself, Mendoza took back-to-back shots at the ATK goal, but Amrinder was up for it. Not that time though.
The second goal for the South Indian team came in the 58th-minute mark when Amrinder made the horrible mistake to come out of his line, as well as the penalty box, to stop a sprinting Mendoza. The Indian couldn't cope with the Colombian's pace and thus the battle.
Mendoza only passed on the ball to Jeje Lalpekhlua in the penalty box, and the Indian forward slotted it in the back of the net. Jeje returned the favour just 10 minutes later, as he delivered a subtle chipped ball to Mendoza in the box, and the ISL top-scorer only slotted it past Amrinder at the back of the net.
The Colombian not only increased his goal tally in ISL 2015 to 12, but also got the 175th goal of the tournament this season.
There was a huge worry for ATK coach Antonio Habas just after the first Chennaiyin FC goal as midfield maestro Borja Fernandes had to limp his way out of the match, to be replaced by Dejan Lekic. Even Marco Materazzi got his share of worries as he saw his star player Mendoza get stretchered off in the second half, following a hamstring knock.
It remains to be seen now if both players remain fit for the second leg. Atletico de Kolkata have some hefty unfinished business now.
Catch the moments from the game HERE.